HAL FLAVIN - Hal Flavin

Hal Flavin - Hal Flavin

4 songs
16:54 minutes
***** ****
LiLi Is Pi


Hal Flavin are slow workers and perfectionists. Emerging from the avant-garde band moussevingt that occasionally wrote a hit among their normally long improvisations, Hal Flavin have been working for two years on this first EP, and if you don’t dismiss their previous incarnation, it’s been five years since their last CD. You could have expected more songs after such a long time, but then you get only quality on this self-titled release, starting with the upbeat Lights, showing the band from their most danceable side. The following SPQR (in reference to Asterix comic books?) is a masterpiece of crossover between funk elements and progressive rock. Rock Face sees the band heading into a dreamy mood, continuing seamlessly the daring song structures of the preceding track. The final Uplift is a ballad that survives with strangely little beats.

What makes Hal Flavin special is that they refuse to hire a drummer, preferring to rely on complexly programmed beats that also use sometimes unusual sounds you wouldn’t get out of an organic drum kit. This is juxtaposed by rock instrumentation: intelligent bass lines underline the non-linearity of the songwriting, the guitar switches between heavy chords and clean note pickings that at times remind of early Amon Düül II meanderings, and Marc has developed his vocal dexterity, playing at the same time his Eighties looking keytar.

Hal Flavin like to quote Depeche Mode and Hot Chip as their main influences, but once you get immersed in their sound, you will see that they have found their own style which is accessible and yet refuses to let itself be compared to any other band, which is what I call good working originality. It’s probably best to pay their Myspace page a visit where you can now (May 2008) stream the four featured songs.

The EP is quite short, starts with a fast song and seems to become moodier from track to track, probably an intended effect. I personally prefer the two middle tracks, although the other two are also quite nice. It would have been a good idea to add maybe the previously released single Cinnamon and why not a reworked version of the moussevingt classic Jump Down. Those quality tracks would not only have made this a longer experience, but would have helped to offer a wider array of their qualities especially to those not yet familiar with their music. Let’s only hope that we won’t have to wait another five years for their next four track EP.

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