Lands and Peoples: Lands and Peoples
Unpredictable music comes from unpredictable places. It's not as obvious as it sounds--the next, weirdest thing probably isn't going to come from the places you're expecting. It'll come from the places you don't know to expect anything from. Lands and Peoples has been around about a year and change--at least, that's when the three-piece started a MySpace account--and performs semi-regularly around Baltimore, opening shows for out-folk bands and the like, and remaining a slier presence around town. And, likewise at the edge of the radar, came this EP this past summer, packaged in a classy stitched-together CD sleeve.
Unpredictable is a genre thing, too. In five songs, Lands and Peoples establish firmly that they don't have one. It is quiet and mostly acoustic, almost unassuming to a fault, but doesn't follow from any particular convention. You could argue this comes from the same DNA as Animal Collective--the same sort of garbled, porous pop music with distant vocals--but Lands and Peoples doesn't sound so enamored of pop right-hooks, electronics, or recording shenanigans. It's closer to the experimental side of Jana Hunter's songs, with even less structure. If those are odd touchstones to put Lands and Peoples between, it's because, well, it is that odd.
And what to make of closer "Cars Like Waves?" It being one song only seems like a technicality--four minutes of beach-guitar swell, foggy chorale, and resonant hum, something of a reprise of the disc's brief "Introduction (Six Weeks)" opener, give way to a few more minutes of goofy toy-instrument waltz behind goofy, incomprehensible moaning, with a solid gap of silence between. Someone switched stations, and you don't quite know why--but it doesn't buck you like it might've, which should be a clue. There sounds to be some dueling, or at least dancing, personalities at work here: one whimsical and coalesced--self-serious this band is not--and the other nebulous and atmospheric.
Hollowed-out bass (didgeridoo, in part?), a wandering organ line, and a big cave-echoed harmony make up "Awake," which announces in the most barely-awake chorus, simply "I am awake" again and again. "Bad Habits" is a sharply crafted experimental pop song of the dreamy Beach House sort that ambles along behind spare rim shots and a cruising, wide-open vocal, letting itself in its last minute through a back door of dissonant hum, echo, and jingle. Remarkably, the disc is only 20 minutes long; but, as more weird little quirks and connections reveal themselves, it's obvious that it's far more than 20 minutes deep, and this writer still hasn't found the bottom.