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As all eleven members of Typhoon began to load into the WERS studio, it started to become clear where the band got their name. A fully outfitted force of an indie-folk band, they filled the studio to the brim with a multitude of instruments. The band has traveled with this elaborate line-up of instrumentalists all the way from Portland, Oregon, and played as a full band, which according to them is a nice but rare occurrence for an in-studio performance. From the trumpets to the violins to the pianos, they stood poised to play a few songs off their newest album White Lighter, which was released in February.
White Lighter is the band’s fourth album, and it is evident that it is the result of painstaking, meticulous songwriting and song craft. The vast instrumentation gives the songs great depth, allowing the band to cultivate a distinctive sound that is layered in a very deliberate and tasteful way.
The expansive sound of the band is displayed beautifully on the first song of the session, “Dreams of Cannibalism.” The song begins with the simple sound of a duo of trumpets, and then escalates as the other instruments and vocals slowly chime in. The formula of this song has become their signature, as much of their music builds to an energetic folk stomp.
Between songs the band mates joke and laugh amongst themselves, and it is clear that despite their size they are a very close-knit group. Before they set off into the next song there was a rustle as some of the musicians switched instruments, readying to introduce even more sounds into the music.
As the second song begins in a flurry of xylophone, the vocals shift focus from leading man Kyle Morton to the equally talented harmony of back-up singers. This is another notable aspect of their music that makes it considerably dynamic. The medley of instruments is so seamlessly woven together that when the guitarist picks up a set of maracas or the violinist switches to a ukulele, it sounds very natural and fluid. The final product is music that is not only tremendously nuanced, but that almost seems to grow and shrink.
It is unsurprising when Kyle Morton describes the songwriting process for this album as “long, arduous, but rewarding.” The entirety of the album was recorded in a barn in Happy Valley, Oregon, but Morton “pre-wrote” for about a year beforehand. He states that once the entire band is called in to perfect the songs, it can be “messy and interesting,” and that the band essentially writes by putting sounds on sounds until the songs have fully developed. The end result is a unique type of intricate folk-rock, that they explained doesn’t translate well into simpler acoustic versions.
The third and final song the band played was “The Lake,” another trumpet-laden song with a complex acoustic fingerpicking guitar line throughout. As the song ends, almost the whole band contribute to the vocal harmonies, a beautiful moment that perfectly encapsulates the dynamic of the band.