200 Years - 200 Years
200 Years is none other than those straw dogs of skull counting (and ﬂowers!), Ben “Six Organs of Admittance” Chasny and Elisa “Magic Markers” Ambrogio. Yep, that’s what they called them back in grade school — and that’s where the storm clouds started massing. It would be years and many cold dishes of revenge before this unique version of socialization would blossom into the music that both are rumored for today. They still don’t lie, but the debut 200 Years LP sounds like they’re ﬁguring out a way to build around the smoking holes, instead of the rough old craniometry count down. If destruction is a type of construction, then you can say we here at DCHQ knew they had it in ‘em the whole time! Like magnets, or Voltron, apart these two have wreaked havoc with electricity and enemies, but when joined create a force of absolute cohesion and power. Quiet-like, though!
200 Years is to a listening experience like seeing is through a dirty window — you can’t see anything clear out there but the light. And that’s more than you got in the room. Sonically, it’s basically Ben and Elisa with guitars, Elisa’s voice, Ben’s guitar alone, the breath of a harmonium, the faintest strains of piano. There’s more playing in the mix than just that, but it’s like that ol’ dirty window – the sounds are more not there than they are there.
200 Years almost brings to mind the old song about “one and one don’t make two, one and one make one.” Almost. The songs of these two people are singing to us about the life of less than one. There’s a two-ality there, but what happens when each side of the mirror is half-empty? Somebody once said, “I don’t light candles for anyone; it’s too serious to get sentimental.” Maybe it was Lot, maybe it was Eurydice, maybe it was Sontag RIP, but it’s one of those guys who never listened when Dylan hacked out the hoary old chestnut, “don’t look back.” 200 Years have got necks craned like Regan MacNeil, and baby, light ‘em if you got ‘em! They have memories like steel traps rusting deep underground; these mooks manage to light candles and curse the darkness all in one record.
200 Years depicts chaos, envisaged through corrosion, but calmly, childishly recounted. The slow ticking of time, so terrifying to some, is a natural fact here. Playing the guitar is the train to tomorrow, even if there’s no reason really to take that ride.
Ambrogio’s lyrics are sung often without major affect, butt the words burn color out of the walls and the ﬂoor around her. Like slides focusing and blurring, the lyrical threads offer the momentary clarity of squinting into the middle distance and seeing smoke rise.The album ends with “More Than Alive” — cause for celebration, or alarm? What is greyer than grey? These songs are like odes to nature written from the vantage point of a valley of ashes.
200 Years is the ﬁrst 200 Years album. Before you start thinking about how this is the beginning of a tradition that we’ll be talking about in 200 years, stop. You don’t know that.