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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

8in8

Last week Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Ben Folds and Damian Kulash (who must be getting sick of having from Ok Go tagged after his name every time somebody writes out that list) went into the studio as 8in8. The idea was for them to write and record 8 songs in 8 hours, using the force of Twitter to crowdsource ideas. They didn't quite succeed - they only managed to get 6 songs down - but so far the album (called Nighty Night) has raised a hell of a lot of money for Berklee City Music.

What's more, the album is actually good. Opening track Nikola Tesla is a vaudeville romp that sounds like it could have come out of the sessions from Palmer's solo album (which I'd imagine has something to do with Ben Folds having produced that album). Because The Origami is a slow, thoughtful ballad that's sort of a coming-of-age story in second person, told by the main character's parents (if a song can have a character). I always forget that Amanda Palmer can deliver soft vocals, but she does it brilliantly here.

One Tiny Thing, for me, is the stand-out track on the album. It sounds like Ok Go at their best, creeping and moody with jazzy piano thrown in at the most unexpected times. This one will stay with you.

Twelve Line Song ups the tempo again, and you'll be singing along to it before too long. The low production values (something I love but that plenty of people will hate) really stand out on this one - the vocal harmonies aren't quite spot-on, and the oooh's sound a little shrill in places, but it really doesn't matter. It's a fun song.

I'll Be My Mirror is another Amanda Palmer song, the kind of story-song that she delivers so well. The only problem is that it doesn't really go anywhere - the same piano is repeated throughout with the only change being some guitars thrown in between the verses. This one didn't really stand out for me.

Final song The Problem With Saints sees Gaiman trying his hand at vocals. It's more spoken than sung - to be expected from somebody who isn't a singer, really - though it's a decent attempt. You can hear what was being tried on this track, but for the chorus to really pop out it needed a talented vocalist. As it is there's no real vocal expression here - which pains me to say. My almost fanboy-ish-ness (is that a word?) for Neil Gaiman is well documented, so I really wanted this one to be great. Instead, what stands out here is the piano playing, which is the best on the album so far. If the vocals were better I'd put this down as my favourite track, because lyrically its also fun and interesting.

All in all, it's well worth a listen (and for a lowly $1 - which goes to a good cause as well) you might as well give it a go, which you can do here.

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