Stacked melodies, distorted organs, stretched chords, reimagined vocals: Collections of Colonies of Bees/ Volcano Choir multi-instrumentalist Thomas Wincek drops his Emotional Joystick handle for the glorious themes of All Tiny Creatures. During the 17-minute titular piano triumph of "Segni" and through the luminous haze of "Street Lights Ten Thousand Feet," ATC's debut EP builds four ideas into four engrossing instrumentals. This limited-edition colored vinyl release is a prelude to ATC's debut LPâ€”which will feature vocalists Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Megafaun, and Ryan Olcott (12 Rods, Mystery Palace)â€”due in early 2011.
The four pieces that comprise Segni unequivocally reflect two ideas: First, there's an understanding of and appreciation for theory, whether that means simple chords and the complex changes between them, or computer programs and the various microphones that provide their sonic sustenance. That's here. But, it's the second ideaâ€”the one that says complex structures and rules must not prohibit the composer from bending a piece toward the ear of the listenerâ€”that wordlessly explains the magic of All Tiny Creatures. These songs sweep you up in their motion, drawing more attention to how they sound and the way they make you feel than the how and why of their construction. "Minor" might be a four-minute exploration of plopping a C-minor above interlocked C and E-flat chords, their respective thirds removed. But above an escalating drone and building drums, it feels more like Philip Glass in 1972, shooting steroids to score an action short. The idea is heavy, but the listening is just glorious.
Wincek engineered these tracks at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, in his Madison home, and in the studio of Ben Derickson, the drummer on Segni and in the full-band version of All Tiny Creatures. That quartet features guitarist Andrew Fitzpatrick and bassist Matthew Skemp and made its national debut at the Hometapes events of South by Southwest 2009.