Half-Handed Cloud

In these days of slowly waning post-election bitterness, it’s tempting to view Knoxville, Tennessee’s Half-Handed Cloud as part of some vast, red-state conspiracy to ensnare nondevout hipsters. Prime mover and multi-instrumentalist John Ringhofer’s biblical imagery is rendered nearly subliminal by the tuneful, interwoven songs it spikes. Thy Is a Word and Feet Need Lamps is what the Microphones might sound like fronted by Doug Martsch or Sam Coomes and blunted silly on Elephant 6. Ornate and compact, Thy Is a Word nonetheless seems slightly haphazard, as though Ringhofer holed up for weeks writing the music, then broke into his collaborators’ homes one morning to enlist their help recording it that afternoon. This balance of detail versus scattershot execution — plus the deft incorporation of sounds from xylophones to Doppler effects to scattering seeds to wafting choirs in service of this half-hour Sunday School lesson — makes Ringhofer’s platter well-nigh irresistible, Bible Belt overtones or no.

Categories: Music