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Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax


There are houses all around you. Some, you inhabit. Others, inhabit you. And if you live in Denver the most beautiful of Houses are playing music around you right now, under painted marquees and in our townís famed venues.

It is certain that if you look deep enough into a house you will not only see an edifice constructed of brick and mortar and windows, but you will also begin to see a mirror and a personís matters of importance, the holy altars of reflection and contemplation.

If you look into a mirror, you will only see representations. Parts. Pieces. A life that looks backwards on its horizontal plane and absorbs light at different, real world frequencies. In a mirror reflection you will not see an exact duplication of life. Objects are further away or closer than they otherwise are. In the end what youíre left with are watery reflections of a life in-motion or frozen.

On the surface of his still water, Houses songwriter Andy Hamilton is a bit like the English weather. He is subdued. He can be quiet, even murky. But just like any wave of weather, there is always a storm coming from the heavens.

Having been classically trained on the piano for twelve years, music wasnít something that Andy Hamilton had to struggle to find. Very early on it was apparent that Hamilton spoke best through music. And music, spoke best to him. It was simply a matter of honing his skills and settling his windy direction on one target. For years now Hamilton has worked as hired help for many acts around town. He has recorded chamber music for a documentary. Through the years he has recorded folk songs, played hardcore music and, in part, sat in the shadowy parts of the stages around Denver. Until now. Until Houses.

With his extensive relationships with so many in town, it finally came time in late 2006 when Hamilton decided to employ all the experience that had accumulated like the frozen snow of his past, and decided to step out with his work, into the public light. With the help of those around him, including ex-Hearts of Palm players Steve Brooks and Matthew Till, Hamilton went to work. He began to write new pieces. With his classical sensibilities in-hand, he reached out and began created big, full arrangements; small symphonies of sound.

Slowly, but certainly, the pieces began lock into their rightful harbors. On account of his diverse musical background, what would become Houses was inflected by 1960 and 70ís rock ní roll with a helpful hint of pop, math rock and spatial ambience. And in his honest pursuit of this formation, the diversity of style that began to meld together was something that, like the great Northern Seas, was natural. Unforced. Apart from genre or something rigid.

If Houses was anybodyís band, it would have to be Andy Hamiltonís. Hamilton is the bandís primary songwriter. He writes all the parts, and employs different instruments. But as an aptly adroit songwriter, Hamiltonís goal is to write a song that sounds good and can be played on just one instrument. Constantly balancing the ultimately complex with simple folk elements, Hamilton is always working to create big textures that can hold songs that can be sung along to.

And so, while this may be Andy Hamiltonís band, he wonít say that. Instead, he will focus on his gratefulness for all the players that he has worked with, and those that he continues to work. As a musician, Hamilton lives beyond his nose: Instead of saying that this is his band, be will focus on the intoxicating dynamics that have been present between the players since the beginning. He will focus on the idea that it has always felt as though they synthesized together so many different houses, into one. Literally and figuratively.

At its best Houses is everything that is brilliant about the Denver music scene. Itís a conglomerate of houses and players, most of whom have duties with other acts in town. Each player is adept in a variety of instruments (Andy Hamilton, songwriter, guitar, vocals; Matthew Till, bass; Stephen Brooks, drums, percussion, organ; Eric Peterson, keys, Wurlitzer; Maria Kohler, vocals, Glockenspiel; John Lundock, drums, organ, Mike Marchant, guitar).

The band moves from ambient, dreamy swells of the calm seas (ďCrossing the North SeaĒ) to big, full band arrangements that will move an entire room into dance and exaltation. And with so many players in the band itís no coincidence that so many of their songs hinge on flavors of communication, relations both professional and romantic, and of course Ė all dilemmas existential. In the end, if the band was to choose a different name, it would have to be: Mirrors.

The course of any life is best reflected in work. Work is the expression of a personís creative powers. And those creative powers are the reflection of a personís weather; a personís journey; the movement of one storm across the seas.

Many years ago Andy Hamiltonís restlessness got the best of him. And so he moved, back and forth, from the States to the UK. This movement back and forth across the great Atlantic Ocean may yet again be another representation of the foundations that Houses is built upon. The band covers a great deal of ground and incorporates elements from Irish and Scottish folk music to big 70ís rock ní roll: big guitars and everything loud.

In all, Houses is an emotional torrent Ė a wild and choppy sea that has the power to throw one hither and thither. And in the fluid transitions of life, Houses has managed, with all involved, to continue the process of growth; to learn how to write as a band and how to communicate with the self, all while communicating with all the houses of the earth.

Stay abreast of Housesí upcoming album release and their already-notable communications that are certain to spread beyond Denver and great, wild seas of this world: www.myspace.com/housestheband.