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Listen: Hejira – “Litmus Test”

By ; August 13, 2013 at 5:16 PM 

Hejira - Litmus Test

Electronic auteur Matthew Herbert has an ear for music.  Anyone who has been completely enraptured by one of his numerous records can attest to that.  And now he’s using that gift to help explore various genres as founder of Accidental Records. And one of his recent acquisitions is the London-based band Hejira.  Drawn from a diverse collection of musical lineages — namely German, Chilean, Hungarian, and Ethiopian — the experimental foursome (comprising Sam Beste, Rahel Debebe-Dessalegne, Alexis Nunez and Alex Reeve) have fully integrated their widely disparate influences into something that resembles half a dozen genres but never feels tied down to any one set of rhythmic guidelines.  It’s their own music to be sure, but it still bears the submerged traces of their collective geographical ancestry.  And on their debut record, Prayer Before Birth (out October 21st via Accidental Records), the band thread gorgeous vocal harmonies and sweeping orchestral textures together with a sense of musical spontaneity that surprises as often as it satisfies.

As the producer and distributor of Prayer Before Birth, Matthew Herbert had this to say about Hejira: “I love this band. There’s a delicate orchestration to their playing and arrangements that has more in common with symphonic classical music than rock. Born of many years of experience performing individually in a bewildering amount of styles the band seeks to build this musicianship in to an uncompromisingly visceral, passionate yet tender sound. Full of gentle surprises, the whole project feels unhindered by compromise or a desire to please. As a consequence, it makes for a magnetic, engaging listen.”

For the second single from their upcoming debut, the band has chosen the churning, musical melting pot of “Litmus Test.”  A statement of intent if ever there was one for a band, this track exemplifies Hejira’s communal attitudes toward collaboration and musical integration. The band plays around with swatches of crunchy guitars and dirge-like vocals and builds the track up with thick, bass-heavy percussion and a hefty dose of early 90’s indie rock swagger.  Drifting into more typical indie rock proclivities than Herbert’s involvement might suggest, “Litmus Test” slow burns its way into your head, drawing you in to some dark subconscious corner where the band has set up shop and are trying their damdest to keep the darkness at bay.  Check out “Litmus Test” below.

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