Brooklyn-based band Howard has finally nailed a harmonious balance between folk and electronic. Many came before him in efforts to modernize folk, such as Animal Collective and CocoRosie, but all of those forays would always lead to the folk being lost in the synthesized madness. Hence, the genre being more aptly named: Freak Folk. But, in my opinion, Howard is the first true Folktronica band.
I’ve been anticipating this day ever since I listened to electronic remixes of Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver during my college days, yearning for someone to finally start a genre called Folkstep (still crossing my fingers for that). Of course, folk is music of the people, inherently acoustic, something anyone can pick up and put their own spin on it. And electronic, is well... electronic. Two styles that are paradoxical. The question for the longest time has been: can acoustic instrumentation live happily together with electronic?
First, I’m going to prime you up with their folkiest song. Here’s Religion, with vocals like a Fleet Foxes song and polyrhythmic guitars inspired by Philip Glass’ Metamorphosis (a huge favorite of mine). This song will enrapture you into a whirlwind of guitars and beautifully haunting lyrics. Here’s a live acoustic version from BalconyTV with a great interview after the song covering their inspiration:
Now, to answer the question. Can acoustic and electronic live in harmony? Money Can’t Buy answers this question in the most beautifully composed way. Put on a good pair of headphones. Press play. And let the music consume you.
After listening to this song, it became crystal clear to me that the old can meld beautifully with the new. That synthesized and acoustic don’t need to live in separate musical planes. That folk is more than the acoustic guitar, folk is about implementing old philosophies into new practices. Howard’s music has burrowed themselves into my heart and warmed with their fluttering guitars and husked voices. I can’t wait to hear more from them in the years to come.
Original GIF by Sandy Noto.
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