Thursday, August 28, 2008

Matthew Robert Cooper - Miniatures

Artist: Matthew Robert Cooper
Album: Miniatures
Label: Gaarden Records
Year: 2008

01. Miniature 1
02. Miniature 2
03. Miniature 3
04. Miniature 4
05. Miniature 5
06. Miniature 6
07. Miniature 7
08. Miniature 8
09. Miniature 9


A proper album by Brian Eno and Philip Glass ranks near the top of my dream collaborations. The “Heroes” and Low symphonies don’t count, nor does the live transcription of Music for Airports Glass wrote for the Bang on a Can All-Stars: I’m talking about original collaborative work, something like The Pearl with Glass as Harold Budd. As Eluvium, Matthew Robert Cooper seems to dream of this collaboration, too, setting drones of Eno-caliber beatitude against piano and string themes of Glass-caliber austerity. But “Miniature 3″ is not an Eluvium track. By releasing it under his own name, Cooper signals a collapse of his usual dichotomy– theme and atmosphere blend into one liquefied mass. “Miniature 3″ evokes the gusty expanses of Christopher Bissonnette, or the hugely scaled ambiance of Stars of the Lid. Chords crest and break in super-slow-mo, and archipelagic bass tones wink in and out of a sea of stringed resonance. The longing that is so pronounced in Eluvium is here recessive and subtle, more insinuation than clarion call– the sound of a melody yearning for its orchestra.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

For A Minor Reflection - Reistu pig vid, solin er komin a loft...

Artist: For A Minor Reflection
Album: Reistu pig vid, solin er komin a loft...
Label: Self Realease
Year: 2007

01. Kyrrd
02. Reistu pig Vid Solin Er Komin A Loft...
03. Fallegt Utsyni
04. Ohljod
05. Okyrrd
06. ...Solin Er Sest Og Dapurleikinn Tekinn Vid Bless

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For a Minor Reflection must sympathize with The Silent Ballet’s own editor-in-chief Jordan Volz. Though music critics have been saying that “Icelandic music is so beautiful it would make God cry if He had ears to hear it with and existed” for years, Volz proclaimed the fall of Iceland in his review of Múm’s Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy, commenting that the trademark Icelandic sound is really “all quite gimmicky, isn't it?” FAMR have looked elsewhere for their inspiration (at least from the musical end of the spectrum) to the relief of whiny, needy post-rock fanatics all over the world. It seems like the band has leapt from the proverbial frying pan and into the fire by escaping “gimmicky” Icelandic influences in favor of those that insidiously seep from the capital city of the second-largest state in the United States.

The album is a back-breaking hour’s worth of crescendo rock, opening with a nice introduction and then promptly forgetting that short “transitional” tracks are good for keeping an album flowing smoothly. Instead, they throw together five tracks that hover around the ten-minute mark, offering nothing in the way of transition but the resolution of the first song into the build-up of the next. The static nature of the album is not helped by the fact that all the songs are built using virtually the same structure. I don’t need to even describe it, honestly - any astute reader of this review will be able to identify the general crescendo rock song structure in their sleep.

The title track, “Reistu pig vid, Solin er Komin a Loft…” is the first of the long tracks on the album, and is so clumsy that it should have been left off the album altogether. If you’re going to play the kind of game FAMR are trying to, you’ve got to be an absolute master to get anywhere, and you definitely can’t use a track like this to introduce your sound to your listener. The transitions and build-ups are sloppy (around the 4:30 mark I visibly wince every time) and the climax is not worth the pain of the rest of the track, leaving the listener worried about what else is in store. After all, if they characterized their entire album by this track, what reason is there to believe that it should get better?

The next two tracks pick up a bit, at least being played competently, if unimaginatively. “Okyrrd” opens generically once more, with plodding bass and guitar hidden behind a screen of reverb. It also pulls the ‘introduce one instrument after another to sound like development’ trick that has been played so many times in the past. But around the four minute mark, after the false climax, something incredible happens: I start enjoying myself. At first, it’s nothing but pedal noodling on one guitar, but it is so unexpected that it sucks me in, then the pounding, deep drumming and faster, darker bass (eventually distorted) keep me hooked. It creates a darkness, a feeling that for the first time actually keeps the seasoned listener interested, and by the time the climax shows up, you’re cast along with it. “…Solin Er Sest Og Dapurleikin Tekinn Vid (Bless)” builds off of this momentum. Though it heralds a return to the more mournful, emotive theme that apparently every crescendo rock band ever wants to portray, it is done with such power and honesty that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Reistu pig vid, Solin er Komin a Loft… is far too long for its own good, and shows the poor grasp of album construction and track selection that young bands are to be expected to make. Some crisp, knowledgeable editing could have done the album a world of good, as there is a raw honesty that I admire in the band’s work which is only inevitably downplayed due the frustrating nature of the CD. If FAMR analyze the work of their peers and channel their exuberance into new territories, then perhaps they will be the ones to bring Iceland’s sound back into the hearts and minds of pretentious critics like myself.-by Zach Mills(

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

The American Dollar - A Memory Stream

Artist: The American Dollar
Album: A Memory Stream
Label: Planetary Records
Year: 2008

The Slow Wait (1)
The Slow Wait (2)
Lights Dim
Our Hearts Are Read
Anything You Synthesize
We're Hitting Everything


The band American Dollar arranges songs into soundscapes and visions of futuristic music.
American Dollar has been together for seven years. MTV picked up the band's first song for its battleground television show. Their previous albums managed to become number one and two selling albums in Tokyo in 2007. (For them, "We're big in Japan," is true.)
"A Memory Stream" is a journey into new sonic territory. American Dollar has managed to make a true sound experiment while finding uncommon ways to explore the sonic world.
The song "Call" has a very repetitive drum machine part that seems looped. The pianos sound natural and the atmospheric quality of the track borders on techno. This music has a soothing quality that is suitable for dance clubs or someone listening to a CD player.
"Were Hitting Everything" has a synthy electric piano intro with gated electronic drums. This track could've been used on Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" soundtrack.
It has a very spacious sound quality to this track. American Dollar has managed to transcend the fixed space of the audio world with "A Memory Stream." It's a must for listeners of ethereal and new-age music.-by Rich McCracken II (

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tesa - HeartBeatsFromTheSky

Artist: Tesa
Album: HeartBeatsFromTheSky
Label: Old Skool Kids
Year: 2008


01. I
02. II
03. III
04. IV
05. V
06. VI


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Friday, August 1, 2008

Husky - The Sea King

Artist: Husky
Album: The Sea King
Label: Self Release
Year: 2008

01. The Drunkard
02. Flagship
03. Mayans vs. Martians
04. Aboard the Relic
05. Rejoice
06. Trading on the High Seas
07. Red Right Returning
08. Leeward and Easy


For their sophomore album, Charlotte, North Carolina's Husky has come up with a bit of a challenge. See, The Sea King is a concept album (based on “The Sea King” - the largest vessel ever built in Bowdoinham, ME, circa 1877), and Husky is an instrumental band. Even Peter and the Wolf had some narration, and that was more of straightforward yarn.

Those willing to invest the time can probably tie the individual tracks together into a cohesive narrative about a big fucking boat that one day sank in New York harbor, but for me, I'm just going to approach The Sea King as an album of songs and nothing more. Compared to their debut, the more landlubber named Circle the Wagons, Husky's certainly expanded their sound. While The Sea King still offers up plenty of dusty, Southern rock jams, there are also traces of straight forward rock (“Flagship”) and electronic fuzz n drone pyschedelia (“Mayans vs Martians,” “Rejoice”). Still, it's the semi-languid, sprawling tracks like “Aboard the Relic,” “Trading on the High Seas,” and “Leeward and Easy” that make The Sea King an impressive follow-up. The band seems most comfortable settling into a steady groove and letting the instruments express themselves. There's not a lot of fancy playing, but there's plenty of deep playing.

As with Circle the Wagons, The Sea King seems like one of those albums that's perfect for late night drives on long stretches of highway. It's good music to get lost to, and a fine collection of songs. (

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