When Charles Spearin, member of Broken Social Scene, decided he needed something new to cleanse his pallet, he turned to an idea that had been fermenting for several years. In his mind, he could hear the vocal inflections in every day conversations, as only a man with a keen ear can do. His next step was to fuse these natural inflections into a pop-centric album. The album would be titled The Happiness Project.
Setting the scene for this masterpiece of sorts, Charles set out to record his neighbors conversations with the subject matter revolving entirely around the idea of happiness. Once recorded, Charles would enter the studio to incorporate a plethora of instruments in order to match the melodies in the speeches on tape to musical melodies.
His attempt has proven quite successful, though it’s easy to say that this might not be everyone’s cup of tea. For all intents and purposes, it’s an avant garde concept album, with a leaning towards the pop elements; these elements rely more on the personality of Spearin than the final product. Each recorded session is fit in with a unique sound meant to follow the exact vocal inflections of the speakers. You may not regard this as something entirely remarkable, but when listening, one can’t help but feel a sense of wonderment when you hear just how tightly wound the two melodious elements are on tape.
A problem for most listeners certainly will lie in the timing of the album, and by that I refer to the appropriate time to listen to such an album. It’s not exactly something you just throw on the record player in the middle of the party, but this could be precisely what Spearin wants from his listeners. Perhaps he is begging you to step aside from the normal barriers of conversation and listen closely to the natural music we all make every day of our lives.
This experiment, as the man proved live, is quite beautiful when heard in the live setting. Conceptually, its both brilliant and intriguing. You’ll just have to set aside a fair amount of time to actually sit down and let this record crawl into your head, and if you do so, you are sure to reap the rewards that Charles set out to share with us all. Though it’s merely a reminder of the beauty that surrounds us each day, even in our most mundane conversations.