The band for today’s Music post has been on my “to write about” list since before the first edition of Music Monday. Admittedly, sometimes I tend to jump on the wagon a bit late. This was the case with many beloved bands of mine. Today’s band is no different, as I’ve waited until years after they’ve stopped doing anything active to discover their awesome aural experience.
(photo from Facebook)
The Six Parts Seven is from Kent, Ohio (according to wikipedia) and has been on hiatus since 2008. An instrumental band, they practice a minimalistic approach in their writing style. Short motifs repeated over traditionally pleasing harmonics leave the listener feeling complacent and not jolted. The artful repetition borders on annoying, yet the band does an impressive job of subtly altering the accompaniment so that as background music, the mind is stimulated yet the listener doesn’t have to focus on the progression and development. Their music is definitely the kind you can listen to over and over through a variety of tasks.
It can be challenging for a musician to connect with an artist without words, especially in the concept of a band that (formerly) performs on stage for fans. Yet this group of musicians sets the tone of each song and clearly communicates their emotions with few notes and even fewer words.
Although I love solid performances and jarring frontmen/women as much as the next music fan, there is something to be said for instrumental bands. I find that music can take you a variety of places, but the place that I go when I listen to good instrumental music is a place of complacency where the world can stop and I can just be. My soul resonates, and I say this in the most literal of ways because there is no closer metaphor for that feeling I get. Not even yoga brings me to such a content accepting place. It’s not even that the music clears my mind to sort out confusion, or to that it empties me of emotion or thought. I become the emotion, the passion, expressed from the musicians, through the speakers, and into myself. This is music I can sit and listen to, and become.
My other favorite metaphor for this genre is Art Music. This is the best music to support the art process without hindering or influencing it. I can listen to this music and photograph, or write, or blog, or sketch, and it helps streamline the creativity from my mind to the medium. It satisfies that “multitasking” need of mine by giving the “back of my mind” something to focus on while the “front of my mind” produces the art. Unfortunately, it is hard for me to focus on one thing straightforward, I always have a separate thought process going on. Instrumental music is key for me to focus. It was how I studied in college, how I journal, and how I blog.
What I like about The Six Parts Seven, which separates them from a band like Explosions in the Sky (who I absolutely love), is their instrumentation. There were points when I was listening to The Six Parts Seven at work, and I had to stop and sit back for a minute. The horns were artfully incorporated, without it taking any reflection of jazz, ska, or punk (for this, listen to Knock At My Door, off Casually Smashed to Pieces). I also love their reflection of when to add drums, and when to leave them out. They do a great job providing rhythmic stability without drums, which can suspend you in time with a particular motif, or drive you forward toward the development of new emotions.
Since 95% of my music listening occurs at work, I’m usually putting together playlists on Grooveshark. However, it looks like you can purchase their albums on iTunes (however, they’re not on Spotify – boo for that). They were signed to the record label Suicide Squeeze, who is also the label for This Will Destroy You, Minus the Bear, and Russian Circles.
Their discography is as follows (wikipedia, again):
- 1998 – In Lines and Patterns… CD (Donut Friends)
- 2000 – Silence Magnifies Sound CD (Troubleman Unlimited)
- 2002 – Things Shaped in Passing CD & 2xLP (Suicide Squeeze)
- 2004 – Everywhere, and Right Here CD & LP (Suicide Squeeze)
- 2007 – Casually Smashed to Pieces CD & LP (Suicide Squeeze)