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the grand shell game

man on a wire


A confrontation with the impossible, in life as in art. This might be the idea that serves to best define the debut album Man on a Wire by the grand shell game. It was created by a group of musicians who realized they were a band within the first few notes of their first jam together. It was inspired in part by Colum McCann’s novel “Let the Great World Spin,” which itself drew inspiration from Philippe Petit, the artist who forever redefined the realm of what is possible with his famous, unauthorized tight rope performance between New York’s World Trade Towers in August of 1974. It is at times reminiscent of The Beatles or Fleet Foxes, Zappa or Neutral Milk Hotel, while still sounding unique in and of itself. It is an album that seems alive and breathing, speaking to each listener individually with musical and lyrical layers that continue to unfold with each visit. Recorded in 2015 at Tarquin Studios (The National, Dispatch, Swell Season) with engineer Greg Giorgio, perhaps the greatest strength of the work is in its unconventional familiarity. Within very simple constructions there is a beautiful complexity. Whereas the tones are classic, the virtuosic arrangements are not. Emotional timbres of the lyrics are often contrasted by the moods of the music, even as one is complimented by the other. A pop aesthetic is threaded throughout that sticks with a listener; and while each song stands on its own, contained within each is a reflection of the others in such a way that the whole feels greater than the sum of the parts.


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