Free and legal MP3: Kinch (mesmerizing melody, with time signature tricks)

“The Economic Chastisement” – Kinch

This song has a central time-signature complication going on but it took me any number of listens to notice. Which speaks to a songwriting feat I’m particularly fond of: not merely a time-signature complication, but a complication that doesn’t draw undue attention to itself. I like when the unusual is disguised as normal. (A related trick, similarly tasty: disguising the normal as unusual.)

Basically you’ve got an ongoing three-beat rhythm regularly interrupted by one two-beat rhythm–I’m guessing two 6/8 measures followed by a 5/8, but who knows. The more interesting thing is how this asymmetry is adroitly masked. First, notice the pulse-like drumbeat, which for the first minute sounds quite literally like a heartbeat, implying a steadiness that isn’t actually there. Second, for all the implied motion in the song, the melody is focused on one note for a whole lot of the time. It gets kind of mesmerizing, particularly in combination with that cycling, just this side of comical piano vamp that kicks in at around 1:20. Another point of distraction is how the song comes to a near-complete stop during that brief, immobile chorus or bridge or whatever that is between verses. We notice that, but we don’t notice the fact that there’s no way to tap your toe to the song consistently even when the song starts moving again.

Kinch is a four-piece from Phoenix; their name is the nickname given to Stephen Daedalus by (stately, plump) Buck Mulligan in Ulysses. “The Economic Chastisement” is the title track to a three-song EP the band self-released last month. If the title carries with it the weighty suggestion that we’re all complicit in the rearing up of the so-called Great Recession, I have the feeling the band would be satisfied. They themselves are looking for no handout–the EP is available as a free and legal download on the band’s web site, as is their entire first full-length CD, released last year. “These songs are meant to be shared,” the band writes. “Please feel free to send them to anyone you like.” It’s a different kind of stimulus package.

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