eclectic challenge

Shimmer (Section X)
Big Hat

By William Brents

Hailing from Chicago, this interesting foursome has managed to create a sound unlike any heard recently. Every song is a breath of fresh air -- and it's no mystery why this is. The baroque instrumentation is the reason for Shimmer's escape from the ever-present musical monotony.

Some might describe Big Hat as avant-garde, others may say they are New Age, but no matter what label they get tagged with, the result is downright hypnotic music.

Shimmer begins with "I Was Happy," a thirty-second daydream seductively whispered under the ominous sound of a vox by lead vocalist Yvonne Bruner. Bruner's voice is exquisite, full of throb and passion one moment, then canary-like incantation the next. It's a voice that will not leave alone, a voice that hounds you to listen and marvel in it's sheer beauty.

A crude recording of school children reciting "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," opens "Glossolalia," which like most of these songs is the centerpiece for violinist Car-Malloy Baum, her somber accompaniment perfectly captures the dark mood of the song's lyrics:

I'm not right for you

I'm leaning into Western skies

Where the candles bleed blood red

Won't you help me make it home.

Best is "Limousine," a strange tale of a self-proclaimed humanitarian woman who never takes the bus when going to mass on Christmas. Preston Klik's trumpet shines on this number, which was written by Bruner and Klik, as were most of the songs here.

Admittedly, Shimmer is an initial challenge to get used to, but after a few listens, it becomes quite clear that Big Hat's adventuresome qualities easily win out.