Few album names act as a description of the music contained within, yet Stalko’s GRANDILOQUENCE is exactly that. Launched at the magnificently dilapidated Orpheum theatre slash bingo hall slash boxing ring, the trio (keyboard, violin, guitar) was revealed by the rising of a first curtain, before a second revealed a drummer, a bassist, a second guitarist, a trumpet, two more violins and a viola. One was half expecting a harmonium and a theremin hiding behind a third. At one moment a missing euphonium was mentioned. That was half thought as being a joke, but the album liner notes’ minuscule type actually mention such an instrument.
Stalko have gone big, verging towards huge. Perhaps to the detriment of their earlier sound. Nearly every song feels like it’s about to explode into Godspeed You! Black Emperor-meets-Coldplay string-based bombast. At times, that is exactly what happens. It is not pretty.
Keep in mind such comments come from a card holding member of the Stylistic Spartan Squad.
Shades of indie folksters Mumford & Sons, the Fleet Foxes and Beirut abound.
Issues regarding sound - more of a whine by this point - are an all too common bugbear at local live events at this point. Here they made an unwelcome rappearance, with vocals at times rendered into a smattering of white noise amidst the trumpet’s honking. The band’s interjections in between songs - the boys are big on interaction with the public, it seems - would have been funnier if they were, well, understandable.
The Orpheum itself needs to get more use as a venue. It held lots of new faces on the night, which was virtually packed. Always something of a good sign, at least.
The album itself is a lovely physical object, all high production volumes and fitting artwork, even if the liner notes are, again, nearly unreadable. Maybe these old eyes are not what they used to be. I hope the ears, on the other hand, are still okay.
Marco Attard, 2012