Record of the Week
Indian Jewelry - "Free Gold!"
“Precious Stoner Jam”
“Free Gold!”, free punctuation aside, opens with ‘Swans’, a psychedelic stoner jam that strongly recalls the Warlocks at their most druggy. ‘Temporary Famine Ship’ features a heavily distorted vocal that floats over some Indian-themed guitar work. The stodgy pysch. rock at play suggests this is not recommended listening for your average Ting Tings fan.
Recurrent droning interwoven with feedback and demented, distorted vocal samples and loops occur with high frequency and all lead to an album that is best savoured alone and indoors. Avoid listening to at night if you’re fond of sleeping easily, particularly ‘Hello Africa’, which features such a speed-freakily garbled vocal as to feed devil-searching conspiracy theorists for years to come.
‘Pompeii’ is an album highlight, and Crystal Stilts fans need look no further for their new favourite track. This dirge-like, Velvet Underground aping is twined with a super slow-motion, star-spangled banner-like riff, which drifts across its moribund optimism.
The ever-present sonic fuzz of “Free Gold!” accompanies the listen well. Even where there are lulls in the intrigue, such as in lifeless album closers ‘Overdrive’ and ‘Seventh Heaven’, its presence seems to cement one track to another, and in such a way as to indicate the whole would not stand up without. Some commendable cymbal shimmering throughout ‘Overdrive’ does lessen the disappointment.
Out of this fuzz, the album does however start to slowly reveal itself, emerging from the listless noise one naked limb at a time. In ‘Everyday’ we are given an easy point of access, its echo-y, female-led vocals linger prettily above the acoustic guitar work. However, it is in doom-laden tracks such as ‘Bird Is Broke (Won’t Sing)’ that the album is allowed to bask in its druggy glory, and here seems to soundtrack some art-house production, panning out gently to fade.
“Free Gold!” is not for the unadventurous and has reached deep into it maker’s dark heart to produce a tribal collection of psychedelic jams, which are best kept to one’s self. This treat is not for sharing.
Glass Candy – B/E/A/T/B/O/X
This release is a long way from the band's early experiments with clattering new wave, punk-type music and is an altogether more elegant and refined affair than ‘Love Love Love’. All current Italians Do It Better releases are tricky to obtain but all are worth the pursuit, and this is no exception, as squelchy beats, filthy bass, and breathless-cum--glacial, semi-spoken lyrics, do an alt. disco classic make.
More showy that Jewel's other band Chromatics, this album runs with the glacial-disco or nu-disco template but is a different beast to its shyer sister. Ida No's breathless, disinterested and sexy vocals are certainly a theme across the two records, but 'Night Drive' is entirely more laid back, one for the after show if you will. B/E/A/T/B/O/X caters for the full on midnight, hands-in-the-air crowd.
'Beatific' is the unquestionable highlight, part stomping disco-pop, part atmospheric anthem. The cover of Kraftwerk’s ‘Computer Love’ is steady as she goes, seductive to a note, as is ‘Life After Sundown’. A couple of less intriguing tracks, which I’ll label dance floor filler as oppose to killer, punctuate these tracks and draw the album to a close in ‘Last Night I Met A Costume’, where we leave the club satisfied, but wanting more, having been so thoroughly teased earlier in the evening.
As unlikely a place as Portland is for an 80s Italian Disco revival, I can but only commend the results.
The Sian Alice Group – 59:59
“Future Forgotten Classic”
Incorrectly labeled as post-rock, 59:59 clocks in just under the hour mark, thanks to protests from the label to produce a tight collection of tracks. There is a variety of minimalism on display throughout the album: understated loops, disinterested and ethereal vocals, simple piano repeats, hazy synths and a sustained build and release format.
59:59 comes Jason Pierce endorsed, and fans of his earlier material may find an awkward but happy home here, likewise Portishead fans that liked the industrial challenge of ‘Third’ may enjoy Sian Alice Group’s work. They mine a similar vein to both these artists, albeit more lo-fi than Spiritualized and less abrasive than ‘Third’.
‘Contours’ is true to its name, feeling like a fighter-jet flying over low terrain, but all in slow motion. The feel is reminiscent therefore of some ancient flight simulator you may have played on the Atari. ‘Motionless’ adds some welcome beats to this seemingly exclusive party, spicing up the near featureless landscape. The album is bleak for sure, but rewards the listener. It has a general coherency in its art that lends it toward the soundtrack genre, where the only complaint is that later tracks taper into esoteric mumbling, allowing the album to fall toward the future forgotten classic it may yet become.
Thank You – Terrible Two
Terrible two is a post-punk-rock aural challenge. ‘Empty Legs’ opens with rolling drums and whistles, before ushering in chanting bathed in battling and screeching guitar. ‘Embryo Imbroglio’ introduces some low fret scraping to mesmeric drumming and jittery guitar loops. It has a Japanese post-rock feel to its make up, but is less grandiose that, say, Mono. ‘Terrible Two’ is a mute, high-end of keyboard dirge to close the album, and follows ‘Pregnant Friends’, which opens with twee percussion as favoured by Tilly & The Wall before freaking out into a Lightening Bolt-like breakdown of drums and noises.
Organs pulse sporadically throughout the album tying it together, and the assorted beats and loops that feature are oddly discordant yet pleasing. This is not an album to love, rather one to savour at opportune moments, and is perhaps ideal for scaring off your ex-wife when she comes to pick up the kids for the weekend.
Atlas Sound – Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
To tar Brandox Cox with the label ‘easy listening’ is to do him a grand injustice, but both his 2008 releases wash over the listener in such an aurally pleasing and unchallenging way that it is difficult to slap any other sticker on him. Like his Deerhunter album ‘Microcastle’, this album sounds lazy, but in an entirely commendable way, like it was recorded in shorts and straw hat. It sounds summery in a shoegaze-y way and laces dreamy qualities through a fuzzy, warm haze.
The tracks seem to have an innate rhythm, and pulse gently accompanied by Cox’s acquiescent drawl. What ‘Let The Blind Lead …’ possesses that ‘Microcastle’ does not is a better sense of consistency, where all tracks are songs, rather than collections of ideas, and all compliment each other throughout, rather like Victorian gents doffing their caps respectfully to one another in the street. There is no reliance to fall into the overly experimental, which allows the album to fall comfortably under a straight ‘indie’ classification, with thorough nods to shoegaze.
This has its drawbacks though, because where ‘Microcastle’ was more adventurous, it had the propensity to succeed. Granted it was hit and miss, but where it hit it was marvellous. ‘Let The Blind Lead …’ suffers consequently. The album lacks a standout moment, despite being an equally understated record that repays dedicated relistening in full.
Both albums recall a more mute Grandaddy, failing to reach the same sense of abandon that ‘Sophtware Slump’ achieved, but humming along with the same drive to pleasantly please and to build layer-like with each listen. Sensory deprivation allows for acute perception elsewhere and in Atlas Sound Cox has produced a record above the ordinary, which leaves the listener comfortably numb, happily led by the deceptively simple but courageously effective experience.
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