I always kind of cringe when I hear a drummer wants to start writing his own songs. Well after listening to Noam Hassenfeld songs off his EP entitled Stop All The Clocks I don't think I will be so presumptuous in the future. Hassenfeld started off drumming, in fact he studied drumming traditions in Bali, South India and West Africa. His musical talent grew as he started writing electronic/classical music before branching out to folk/rock music, which is what his EP revolves around. What you have with Stop All The Clocks is six songs of indie folk rock that fans of Neutral Milk Hotel, Sparklehorse and The Dodos can’t miss. The songwriting here is top notch as Hassenfeld has an ear for combining melodies, knows when to restrain and can create truly addictive passages they make you wonder why you haven't heard more of this artist.
The album starts with the title track “Stop All The Clocks.” Hassenfeld picks a delicate guitar melody and when he starts singing you realize just how good he is. His voice is original, comforting and fits like a glove over the acoustic guitar progressions. Not only do you get a great song no matter what he is saying but the lyrics are poignant and don’t fall into typical clichés. The song is a musical setting of a W.H. Auden poem where he has lines such as “Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead / Scribbling in the sky the message He is dead” and “He was my North, my South, my East and West.”
The second song “A Still, Small Voice” according to Hassenfeld song is “about wrestling with the decision to leave a job and a city and move across the country.” He trades in the acoustic guitar for lo-fi distortion that sounds similar to the sound Jeff Magnum achieved on In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. I was happy to hear him pulling out some of his drumming ability on “The Spaces I Have” and even more complex percussive patterns on “Anti-Existentialist Blues.”
Hassenfeld ends the album with one of the best tracks on the EP “Between Two Stones.” He doesn't pull back when it comes to the percussive elements on this one. It’s really fun to listen to him flex his muscles. Not only do you get great rhythms but one good song as well whether or not there was any percussion present.
For a debut EP Stop All The Clocks is incredibly good. I have a feeling we'll be hearing a lot more from Hassenfeld in the years to come.
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