Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Novi Split / The Adrian Fortress

November 9, 2004

Novi Split + The Adrian Fortress/ The Split CD, Volume Two: The lost volume.

Best Element: Intensely personal songwriting.

Genre: Acoustic Singer/Songwriter

Website: http://novisplit.com

Label: Generic Equivalent Records www.boatsandstars.com/geneq

This is the second album from Novi Split that I’ve had the distinguished honor of reviewing. And yes, it is a distinguished honor. Novi Split is just that good. David J’s acoustic ruminations are so beautifully fleshed out that you can’t help but be sucked in.

Now, that last line sounds like something I could say on the review of Novi Split’s debut album Keep Moving. Is there any change from that album to this EP? Yes, there is- but not in the way you would think. Keep Moving felt as if maybe ten people were sitting around David J as he sat on a couch, with a drummer behind him, a keyboard on the seat next to him, and an acoustic in his lap. This EP is even better- it seems as if you were hanging out with David J when he suddenly picked up a guitar and said, “Hey, check out this really cool thing I did on guitar!” It’s not just personal, it’s intensely personal. It’s your best friend singing a song that he believes in.

Want proof? We have a cover song in what I assume is Croatian, complete with sloppy, endearing flute noises (“Tiho Tiho”). We have a song that clocks in barely over a minute (“The New Split (radio edit)”), as well as a heartbreakingly elegant song that makes more stops and starts than the city bus (“Get Me to Bed”). This final song is quite possibly the most tender song that Novi Split has ever written, replacing the sullen, forlorn “The New Split” off Keep Moving. [To clear up some confusion, “The New Split (radio edit)” and “The New Split” have nothing in common other than a subtle keyboard line.] The gentle, caressing vocals that are employed in this EP fit perfectly against David J’s non-obtrusive guitar- even in the poppy, uptempo “Finishing Move” the song feels fey and wide-eyed. I don’t know how David J does it, but he keeps turning out brilliant acoustic gems. If this were a full length, I would definitely like it more than Keep Moving, but it’s not, so they are both equal. Cause seriously, you just gotta love it. It’s too close to you to not love it.

The Adrian Fortress splits this CD with Novi Split, and they boast only two tracks. That’s because one is 19 minutes long. Yeah- longer than some entire EPs. When you get past 9 minutes in song length, you know that only one genre is left as a possibility: self-indulgent instrumental rock. And trust me, this is it, right here. This would be great to chill to, as the offending song “Honor Roll” takes more time to get started than some pop songs have in their entirety (3 minutes), and never gets above a steady mellow pace for the next six minutes. Nine minutes in, there’s some variation, but it’s still mellowing me into Jello. Suddenly, they get bored and start changing the radio station over and over. No- seriously, radio clips play for about a minute, culminated in some symphony playing some classical music piece. It’s weird. Then, just as suddenly as the radio started, it ends, and the Adrian Fortress starts rocking out with distortion and such. Self-indulgent to a T, but still very very cool.

So, two very unique bands share this EP. This EP is one of the best releases of 2004 so far, and I highly advise picking it up. Novi Split refines their craft, and the Adrian Fortress- well- they just have to be heard to be believed. It’s an amazingly odd pairing, but it’s a great EP nonetheless.

-Stephen Carradini

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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