chauchat - "songs for scaffolding"

“songs for scaffolding” is the eighth full-length album from new york-based singer-songwriter tyler whitney, who has been making music under the chauchat moniker for the past ten years. for this collection whitney turns "duo" via lancaster "bad-man" erik sahd (ex - oogies / swingset) and records over the course of the summer months in an old candy factory located in downtown lancaster, PA. for each of chauchats albums, the surroundings seem to be a center point, or a counter weight that works towards a direction indicated in the final outcome. the architectural reference in the album’s title also indicates changes to the songwriting process itself. rather than relying on preconceived song ideas and a group of generous contributors, whitney and sahd ‘build’ the songs from the ground up, beginning with only a single vocal melody or the whish of metal brushes on a microphone bag. the whole thing ebbs, stuck together by reformed rubble, which in the end, delivers a set of structured song worthy of praise. limited to 550 copies in 2 color silkscreened sleeves, and co-released with the mighty monotone records.


‘Songs for Scaffolding’ is the eighth long-player of songs by Chauchat, that is Tyler Whitney, Erik Sahd and friends, who play the sort of antihistamine rock of Early Day Miners or Windsor for the Derby, with the single-authorship of Thanksgiving or, more succinctly, a Bright Eyes of less self-importance. Aiding both acoustics and mood, the band have a penchant for squatting in industrial decay whenever they return to Whitney’s native Lancaster, Penn., and ‘Songs’ is no exception: the sound is big but restrained, always verging on massive. A false start, the plaintive “Brave Shield” gives way to “Practice in the Rubble”, a post-rock lesson in Ganger or Low with little vocal encroachment as the lightly-effected guitars wheedle their way north. “At the Trough” has Whitney sounding the most Oberst while the band sounds most Orange, the best example of the propulsive drumming and cutting lyrics which make the collection both stew and sear. This A-side power-trio finishes with “Stumps (Little House on the)”, a Daydream National anthem with guitar-vocal melodic agreement and hammered tomtoms - a clapping, chorused melancholia faintly-tinged with a twang. On the reverse, whatever discontinuity in song progression apparent by halftime is easily overshadowed by the blunt individuality of each track in the larger scheme, evident in timbre, tone, and structure, as “Like a Drum” moves through three modes of nervous miniatures reliant almost on pure passive aggression. “Amsel” takes the Oberst-plus-Low equation to sound like Titus Andronicus the morning after, while instrumental “Estate Two” is like a prolonged intro to “Dance Me Off a Cliff”, the disc’s most aggressive piece of ‘Goo’-inspired Emo (Blinker the Star once recorded a version of this), its chorus made of frantic percussion and shouted vocals swirled into the cold caterwaul of the mix. As a reminder of the writer beneath and his pen, “Empty Crib” strips away the artillery to end the album with acoustic slides and the moody fucker we first woke to. 550 copies on black vinyl and screened sleeves. Very recommended. Chauchat is a machine gun. - ANIMAL PSI

* * *

Got something from this band long ago, just had to check back in on that. I mentioned “food court sensibilities,” haha. End of 2007, what the heck was going on in my head. Anyway, Chauchat appears to be some sort of project from some Eastern PA guys who’ve tried their luck in Philly and now NYC, but who came back home to record this album in a big, unoccupied factory. The sound of the room they chose is pretty expansive, and the bigger of their songs (like the Silkworm/Comsats-esque “At the Trough”) benefit from the approach. Far more brooding and darker than I had any reason to suspect, and the longer it goes, the more impressed I am at their ability to restrain themselves in service of large ideas and imposing songcraft that just sweeps you up. Anyone giving a hoot about Interpol at any point, or even Godspeed, might do well to take a look at this band. They’ve grown a lot and could contend with much of what’s going on today. Really hung up on this “Estate Two” song as well. Intermittently great, but when it’s on, this is a shocking and surprising development. 550 copies, silkscreened sleeves. - STILL SINGLE

* * *

Raw and enchanting, Chauchat is a mysterious duo led by Tyler Whitney. While currently residing in New York City, Whitney records in the far more rural and bucolic environment of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The result is a sparse, haunting affair that brings a sense of foreboding to Whitney’s folk. I am taken by the subtle touches one finds throughout Songs for Scaffolding, a compilation of songs recorded entirely within an abandoned candy factory. The sound of scraping metal at the onset of “Brave Shield” is indeed a metal lid being dragged across the floor of an empty room. These restrained nuances make Songs for Scaffolding an engrossing listen that requires commitment from the listener to fully appreciate. The pained emotion embedded within “Practice in the Rubble” and “If the Shoe Fits” is riveting, as even the slightest shift in intensity makes each song surprisingly powerful. Case in point is the thunderous (comparatively speaking) “Dance Me Off a Cliff”. Despite such a cold setting, this is a warm and appealing release. - JERSEY BEAT