The View From Radio Towers by Henry Mansfield is an EP of piano pop heavily influenced by Ben Folds and Jason Robert Brown.
“Wasting Time” opens the EP with rapid 16th notes on the hi-hat and Ben Folds like deep piano chords and melodies. The Ben Folds influence continues with the fuzzed out bass, but the vocal inflection and harmonic structure leans towards musical theatre. It works well and the interjections of rolling snares and cymbal flourishes keep the momentum moving.
“Don’t Let Me Get Old” continues the musical theatre theme. The drums are the hero on this song, pushing the song forward with changes to half time and sloshy hi-hat giving a grunge-y punk-y feel. The vocal stretches in range and really seems to soar in the falsetto, taking on an almost Ryan Adams quality. The backing vocals blend well giving quite a different timbre with which to play in.
“Open My Windows” opens in 6/8 time with piano arpeggios and a synth bassoon which buzzes along and is an interesting counterpoint as a bass instrument. Over brushes snare drum, the vocal melody weaves in and out rising and falling in interesting unpredictable ways. The chorus has some Billy Joel sprinkled into the falsetto vocal inflection, channeling heartache and sincerity. The instrumental fuses some Bach like bits in the bassoon, answering the piano runs in a clever way.
“Ocean” is based around synth-y Fender Rhodes-like parts that move around droning low tones like huge sea creatures traveling through the title reference. After the intro, there is an abrupt change to an acoustic piano and drums, which is a bit jarring. The tones are well thought out and interesting, but the immediate transition leaves a bit to be desired and could use either more development or an even more abrupt change if that was the intention. Still, the closing instrumental is anthemic and epic driven by the fuzzed out bass, crashing drums and Brian Wilson like harmonies before opening up into stark beautiful piano chords.
“Right Above Where You Are” closes the EP with an instrumental background firmly rooted in early Ben Folds Five with rapid piano hits playing in a huge range across the keyboard and explosive drums. The vocal has a Morrisey-ish vibrato shaking and holding some interesting unpredictable melodies. The middle has a Meat Loaf/Jim Steinman quality to its epic theatricalness and is pulled off well by the trio, even with subtle robot/aliens peeking in near the end.
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