Sal Klita Blogger | Muzik impressions

Sal Klita Blogger

Saturday, December 19

Where have they gone? A brief reminder to Tram's best Album cuz...there's nothing left to say

The shakily pensive lyric "There's no emotion" on the opening song "Nothing Left to Say" does not even come close to being a persuasive sentiment; Tram's debut album, Heavy Black Frame, is plenty emotional, and all the better for that heart-on-sleeve, lump-in-throat quality. The band comes on like a somewhat less fey Belle & Sebastian fronted by a less strangulated but equally expressive Thom Yorke. Actually Paul Anderson's vocals sound as if they could be expatriated from an '80s New Romantic band, affected but not to the point of parodic, sullen but not off-puttingly so. He aches, and his band aches gorgeously with him through songs full of questioning, uncertainty, and insecurity, most of it revoloving around relationships. Musically Tram reaches far beyond wispy pop, pulling off bits of drugged, somnolent jazz ("Expectations"), intense balladry, instrumental ambience ("Like Clockwork"), even some twangless country on "When It's All Over." Everything seems to take place at half-pace, and rightly so, because the pace mirrors the nature of the music and sentiments. It is form following function, and the music at the end of the disc seems suspended and dangling in mid-air, otherworldly and mesmerizing but also entirely romantic and genuine. Heavy Black Frame is no exercise in understatement or melancholia for the sake of it; the album is intimate and consuming -- a catharsis -- and the songs are gorgeous in their quiet poignancy. They are not straining to be heard and understood, but they are so heartrending and shimmeringly gentle that they are easy to care about. TXT by - Listen to "Nothing Left To Say" - Myspace

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 18

Alexander Skip Spence is back, thanks to Beck & his Record Club

Record Club: Skip Spence "Diana"

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 17

A tribute to Broadcast segments...


Saturday, December 12

Atlas Sound Revival...

As we've gotten to know Bradford Cox over the last couple of years through shows, interviews, and blog posts, one of the Deerhunter frontman's most appealing qualities is his deep and nuanced appreciation of the music of others. Some musicians listen to records to see how they work, check out the competition, or trawl for ideas; by all available evidence, Cox feels records, deeply. If he was born without musical gifts and couldn't sing or play an instrument, one can imagine him working at a record store, amassing an enviable collection while driving people on a message board crazy with the sureness of his detailed opinions. Whatever you think of his exploits as an indie rock media figure, Cox's music fandom is easy to identify with and also offers a portal into his own work.

Atlas Sound, Cox's solo alias, in one sense serves as a sort of laboratory for figuring out what makes some his favorite music tick, away from the expectations of his main band. Two collaborations on Logos, the second Atlas Sound full-length, are excellent examples of how music listening can be absorbed into original work. First is "Walkabout", a track Cox wrote and recorded with Noah Lennox from Animal Collective, whom Cox got to know during a European tour. Though Cox's music shades dark and Lennox's is often flecked with uncertainty and doubt, "Walkabout" is the sunniest pop tune of either of their careers. Coasting on a buoyant, twinkling keyboard sample, it is a starkly catchy and irresistible, a clattery post-millennial Archies tune that straddles perfectly the border between simple and simplistic. Interestingly, it also sounds very much like a Panda Bear tune.

Then there is Lætitia Sadier of Stereolab, who wrote the lyrics and sings lead on Logos' "Quick Canal". The song opens with some gorgeously textured organ chords and soon a steady-state beat and drums rise up in the mix, setting the kind of relaxed-but-propulsive neo-krautrock scene that Stereolab perfected very early on. Here Cox gets to play the part of the late Mary Hansen, adding "la-di-da" trills behind Sadier as she intones phrases in her unfailingly lovely, for-the-ages voice. He even throws in a "Jenny Ondioline"-style rupture about halfway through, sending the track into a breathtaking shoegaze section for its final four minutes, wherein it floats magisterially on a pillow of shifting guitar feedback. "Quick Canal" is almost nine minutes long and it doesn't waste a second.

On these tracks, the confidence Cox shows in melting his aesthetic into the soundworld of other musicians is striking-- both are unqualified successes, very different from each other but among the best things Cox has ever done. But they also sound a lot like the music his collaborators are known for. Cox's sympathetic support and sense of how to construct songs with others suggests a desire to expand the parameters of what Atlas Sound can be. And given his willingness to let others take the microphone on an Atlas Sound project on these cuts, I can't help but go back to Cox's words on Logos before the album was released, which suggested that this was to be less introverted and that was "not about me."

And then I remember that the cover of the album consists of a photo of Cox with his shirt off and the lyrics in the first two songs start with the word "I", which suggests that we probably shouldn't take these statements very seriously. While the songs may or may not be "about" Cox in the strictest sense, the overall vibe is at least as introverted as 2008's Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, and every note bears the same signature. With its strummed guitars, hushed double-tracked vocals, and tunes more reliant on ambiance and feel than melody or rhythm, Logos feels every bit as diaristic and personal, but with Cox, that's a plus. At this point, we're not looking to this guy for commentary on the outside world; we want to hear him wrestle with private demons in the sanctuary of his bedroom, bathing every sound in reverb to give the illusion of space and as a sonic balm against loneliness and figuring out how to make music as affecting as the stuff he loves to listen to.

So tracks like "The Light That Failed", "An Orchid", and "My Halo" (the latter two, though different in tone, are further entries in Cox's growing line of melancholy waltz-time shuffles) function primarily as the kind of eerie, blown-out mood music he has become very good at. They are amorphous sketches that still manage to convey feeling, capturing the sort of sad, exhausted, and fragile emotional state that is Cox's area of expertise. "Shelia", a taut pop song with a great chorus hook, is a change-up, though the repeating refrain "No one wants to die alone" fits with the rest of the record's themes. And "Washington School", with its dissonant chime of metallic percussion that sound like gamelan or evilly out-of-tune steel drums, contains the record's most interesting production, with thick drones reminiscent of Tim Hecker and menacing rhythm track.

Written by Mark Richardson, October 22, 2009