Stumbling on A Hawk And A Handsaw can feel like finding a precious antique from distant lands and generations past, tucked away in your grandmother's attic behind a dusty sewing machine, wrapped in threadbare handkerchiefs. AHAAH is the result of is the result of drummer Jeremy Barnes (formerly of Neutral Milk Hotel) and violinist Heather Trost traveling the world, invoking heavy Eastern European influences, traditional Balkan folk with gypsy sensibilities put together with the help of the sage muses hiding in the deserts of Albuquerque. Their fifth full-length album, Delivrance has fleshed out and furthered that sound, and the result is intricate and exotic, a vivid tribute to the duo's far-foaming adventures.
Named after a line from Hamlet, AHAAH does the bard proud by turning every song into a web of intrigue and storytelling. Sometimes, words are insufficient. Sometimes the most lyrical music is the kind that doesn't need to beat you over the head with witticisms. Almost all the songs are exclusively instrumental, and the galloping violin, whimsical accordion, and eclectic orchestra (which includes everything from the upright bass, cello, and clarinet, to the bouzouki and cimbalom) weave fireside tales of sharing soup with mustached villagers, galloping along the Danube in a horse-drawn buggy, dancing late into the night on the cobblestones in the main square. Titles like "The Man Who Sold His Beard" or "Vasilis Carries a Flaming Skull Through the Forest" get your imagination gears churning, conjuring up dark and mysterious fairy tales.
Balkan influence has filtered into indie music through bands like Gogol Bordello and Beirut. Unsurprisingly, Zach Condon (of Beirut) has even collaborated with AHAAH several times. Whether this is now considered trendy or not, AHAAH mean serious business. Everything from their ornately decorated website to their extended stay in Budapest in order to get immersed in the music and culture shows passion and total dedication, and the triumphant elation of the final product reflects this. Definitely give it a spin if you're in the mood for a journey, feel like listening to something out of the ordinary, or just seek a soundtrack for your daydreams. - Nina Mashurova