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The Franciscan Hobbies - Walls are Stuck

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Artist: The Franciscan Hobbies

Album: Walls are Stuck

Label: Music Fellowship

Review date: Apr. 20, 2005

The rather nebulous confines of the Jewelled Antler Collective have birthed numerous groups, among them Blithe Sons, Hala Strana, Thuja and Dead Raven Choir. Franciscan Hobbies, like some of their Jewelled brethren, are a group of rather fluid membership, with Glenn Donaldson and Loren Chasse at the core, plus a loosely cemented cast of collaborators (in this case, seven others). Walls are Stuck takes its title from a quote by the legendary Indian vocalist and teacher Pandit Pran Nath which, in its entirety, states “walls are stuck…..outside – ideas fly in all directions.” Nath’s sentiment is one that Donaldson, Chasse and the rest of their Franciscan collaborators take to heart; Walls are Stuck is an album unfettered by the confining bonds of structural limitations, with rustic improvisations that meander along loosely defined paths of incidental beauty.

Walls are Stuck doesn’t have many standout moments, but that’s more a product of the disc’s languid nature than an indictment of the Franciscan Hobbies’ skill as players. Rather than concentrate on individual interactions or specific relationships in musical discourse, Donaldson, Chasse, and Co. seem more intent on casting their lines and waiting patiently for a sound bite. And while chaos and clutter are possible results of this method, so, too, are moments of rather unexpected and natural beauty. A rambling muddle suddenly shifts slightly to reveal a hidden gem, and, like an eclipse, some of Franciscan Hobbies’ best moments are only apparent for the shortest of durations.

Luckily, however, they’re capable of more sustained periods of accomplishment, and Walls are Stuck doesn’t rely solely on fleeting bits of synchronicity. While the disc isn’t wholly devoid of rambling passages or wrong turns, it rarely feels like a waste of time, and Franciscan Hobbies’ endeavors don’t come off as self-serving or masturbatory.

The ever-expanding Jewelled Antler brood grows one offspring larger with the release of Walls are Stuck, and, while this disc doesn’t represent much novel expansion of the collective’s M.O., it’s a worthy addition to their catalog, nonetheless.

By Adam Strohm

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