Vallentin is one of those musicians that thinks differently than the rest. He approaches his music, and other art for that matter, with a certain intellectualism that isn’t found on every stage. It translates into something different in our ears. Although it isn’t necessarily easy to pinpoint what it is, one can decipher these small strokes of genius by throwing on some headphones and simply listening to Hedera the whole way through.
The album itself is minimalistic, meditative, yet so full of brilliant moments that they are difficult to keep track of.
There is a comfort/discomfort contrast that arises and disappears at various points throughout the album. The dissonant and distorted secondary vocals in “Garden I (You Own To Fight)”, for example, contrasts with beautiful and tranquil vocal and instrumental melodies. Another example of this dualism would be the song “Laputa”, an abrupt-yet-gentle 40-second long intermission consisting of various bleeps and bloops. The songs before and after “Laputa”, which are “Hindsight” and “I Will Be Water”, respectively, could arguably be the two most beautiful songs on the album.
After spending the last two years focused on the music of others, the self-taught musician experienced a surge of writing and creativity his first time outside of the country. His initial 72 hours in San Juan he said nothing and wrote most of what would become Hedera.
I hesitate to draw a comparison between Vallentin and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, only because of the cliché involved with that assertion. But the deep, at times brooding, vocal style along with his intricate instrumental makes it almost impossible to miss. Fans of the delicate minimalism of Bon Iver will feel at home with Vallentin’s Hedera.
Vallentin utilizes a variety of instruments, from a heavenly-sounding hollow body guitar to electronic elements. Ultimately, the record is a smattering of beautifully crafted notes, melodies, and sounds.
“I was fearful the electronic production would cause the record to sound too sterile, too polished,” Vallentin said. “So I mixed the record myself. I can’t hide the fact that this whole thing was recorded in my bedroom and living room, so I embraced it.”
Be sure to catch Isaac Vallentin live tonight (Friday, July 3) as he opens up The Acorn’s album release party at House of Common. Doors are at 7pm. $10.