Friday, April 29, 2011

CatNip Tea: Denweigh & Hyvor's System

     CatNip Tea are a band from Bellingham, United States, and 'Denweigh & Hyvor's System' is their first album, released during the April of 2008. This fifteen track effort is very much a concept album, based around the life of one man, and apparently what happens when his dream screams, due to people ignoring it. Yeah, I know. Despite this strange description written by the band themselves, there are progressive and psychedelic rock elements to the album as well, which you can download for free here.
     Just under an hour long, this is a fantastic record if you can get into it. I say that because this album is quite inaccessible for a few reasons. Firstly, the band uses some quite complex and unnecessary words in their lyrics, for example in 'Cutting Tricks': "a sting in the calf of a thesbond elated". I for one can't find a definition for 'thesbond' anywhere, which I think is a bit ridiculous. Secondly, the lyrics in most songs feel disjointed. I think this is because the band tries to rhyme words with others that don't go. This does make the music more original and perhaps interesting to listen to, but I can't help but feel that it makes the album a lot more inaccessible. I get the feeling that CatNip Tea are deliberately trying to be an obscure group in the world of music.
     There are good parts to this collection of songs though. The instrumentation in almost every song is fantastic. From electric bass to bluesy saxophone, the album has a solemn and definite jazz-infused feel. Despite the off lyrics and occasionally flat vocals, there is a good mix of the experimental and laid-back jazz. An interesting element to the music that I think CatNip uses well is the electric bass. The sound from this instrument in particular is used well, with the lower pitch bringing forward the harmonisation in a number of tracks, for example number four, entitled 'Escape'.
     Not the most accessible of albums, 'Denweigh & Hyvor's System' is extremely polished for an unsigned band. There are a variety of sounds screwed into the spine of this album, from the rock and experimental psychedelic to the smoky 70's jazz. The only complaints from me are the strange choice of lyrics and the sometimes flat vocals, but after a while these original failings melt away into the wonderful atmosphere of the music. Well worth the free download for any music fan.