Unhindered by the impositions of the vocal yoke, Chicago instro-sorcerers Pelican transcend the limits of time and space to expound upon the stunning finesse and painstaking subtlety with which they command their already indelible sonic signature. Restoring instrumental composition to its former glory is no insignificant task, and to do so with such remarkable authority and presence is a testament to the sheer will and unmitigated talent of Pelican's membership. Levying cinematic melody upon glacial heaviness, they achieve the sort of inevitability usually reserved for weather systems and natural disasters. Channeling the seasonal progressions of various far-flung landscapes, the sounds of Pelican are easily adaptable to both the active and passive listening experience, but their harmonic minutiae are best appreciated in a high-volume stereophonic headphone scenario.
Pelican's seemingly sudden arrival on the Windy City's (and now the world's) underground circuit was in fact a deliberate agenda shift propagated by Laurent Lebec (guitar), Trevor de Brauw (guitar), and Larry Herweg (drums), then three-quarters of the bizarre grind squad Tusk (for further listening, procure Tusk's Get Ready on HeWhoCorruptsInc and The Tree of No Return on Tortuga). With the addition of Larry's younger brother Bryan on bass, Pelican's imposing musical quadrangle was complete. The appearance of a four-song demo, recorded and mixed for a mere $300, followed. Like a large web-footed seabird with a long straight bill from which hangs a distensible pouch of skin for catching and holding fish, Hydra Head Records swooped down from on high in 2003 to re-issue said demo as Pelican's widely-lauded Untitled EP. Within the year, Pelican would become an integral component of the now-infamous Champions Of Sound tour, in conjunction with fellow Hydra Head and Tortuga heavyweights Harkonen, Scissorfight, The Austerity Program, Old Man Gloom, and 5ive's Continuum Research Project.
Pelican's debut full-length, Australasia (Hydra Head) arrived shortly thereafter, ushering in a cyclical riptide of major-chord mastery and low-end triumph against which one could only abdicate any and all tendencies to resist total immersion. Riding high on many a 2004 year-end top 20 list in various national and international music publications, Australasia also led Pelican to the SXSW Music Festival in both 2004 and 2005, All Tomorrow's Parties (UK) in 2004, and a UK/European tour in 2004 (with Jesu, among others). A limited edition Pelican DVD followed, available exclusively through Hydra Head, in early 2005.
With their newest epic, The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw, Pelican establish themselves as an inimitable force of nature, soaring skyward in triumph toward some celestial nadir, shepherding out the frost with a wash of seismic rumblings. Acoustic guitars take their place beside Pelican's traditional (read: highly amplified) power-drone majesty; the heavens part to allow full deliverance of tidal euphony, awe-inspiring instrumental anthems, and bucolic narco-rhythms. Whether this signals the end of the underground musical landscape as we know it, or the beginning of a new one, is anyone's guess. Luckily, the shit rules either way.
J. Bennett, summer 2005
Pelican just returned home from their US tour with Big Business, Breather Resist, and Red Sparowes. They are now in the process of confirming fall and winter touring, both here and abroad. Look for the Pelican/MONO vinyl split on Temporary Residence Oct. 11. Vinyl for the new Pelican album and the recent EP, as well as a repress of the DVD are soon forthcoming.