Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Silent Shout

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The Knife
Rabid, 2006

fans of dark, dour, and somewhat challenging synthpop.
Sounds Like: Depeche Mode fronted by
Bjork remixed by Xiu Xiu for the club.
Listen: The Knife - Neverland

It appears in the ever-saturated internet music review market, the race for the scoop is about as essential and urgent as it is in mainstream news media. Silent Shout, still weeks shy of a proper release date, has already been reviewed everyone's favoriteindependentt tour de force. So, mildly interested, I have little recourse other than to start checking around. You know how these things go; a quick introduction, one thing leads to another, the album finds its way to my hard drive, and next thing I know its going to start talking about marriage or child support payments before I even have a chance to drop my cash proper. And those imports are expensive too.

So, right. The album. First, I'm going to take a stab at this, and proclaim this album to have the finest vocal manipulations of the year. The only competition I can see coming up is if Kevin Oglive happens to drop an album in some form or another in the next ten months, and even then, it would be close. Vocalist Karin Dreijer Andersson's voice sounds like Bjork got into a fight with Skinny Puppy: alternately gorgeous and harshly menacing.

While the instrumental arrangements on this album openly wear a European house music influence, the prominencece of the vocals in the mix, instrumentation, arrangement, and excellently crafted hooks more rapidly echo the darker side of pop music. "One Hit" shows that having a Depeche Mode influence can actually be a positive trait, while "Neverland" could easily find its way to Xiu Xiu on your next Wrist Slittin' Mix (Volume 7: October All Year), and might even encourage some gothic dancing. In that vein, "Like A Pen" and "We Share Our Mother's Health" sound destined for EBM radio feeds.

Ultimately, Silent Shout is not a groundbreaking, must-have album, and may have trouble finding a niche. Its too house to appeal to Joe Synthpop, the vocal manipulations are too outlandish for most people who are attracted to vocals in dance music, and is too inconsistently dance-able to appeal to connoisseursrs of "obscure Europeanan electro." Especially given the inflated import price, I expect a lot of one-download stands in this album's immediate future, followed by some bastard 12" singles in the months to come. Only, with offspring like this, you'll be glad you forgot the rubber.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Statement of purpose

When I talk to some people who are more passive about music, sometimes it seems I come across as a bit obsessive. Take, for example, my girlfriend. She thinks its odd that the primary source of my disposable income is buying music. I counter (of course) with the statement that I don't really have that much music.

Editor's note: I own (I think) somewhere near three hundred and fifty albums, either on CD, wax, or my lone cassette (my beloved copy of Sebadoh's Bakesale), and have another hundred twenty five or so copied to my hard drive.

Now, this is not yet another "yeah, well [people with habits other than me] spend their money on [something else blah blah blah], which is either just as "bad" or worse [due to your typical record self-important/aggrandizing pretentious reasons] argument.

This is an open love letter to looking through a hundred albums, and a couple thousand songs, and realizing that most of them are good. Good, but not always perfect; this goes beyond the typical Summer_Album;Nighttime_Album arguments (I can still dig Pinkerton in December and Dummy in the middle of a sunny summer day). Then, settling on a selection, and realizing its perfect. Absolutely perfect. Its a happiness that nothing else can really touch, or, at least, with far less frequency. Its a reason to spend money I shouldn't on a few more albums, a reason to update a blog no one will ever read, a reason to troll record stores looking for a single that I can guarantee will not be there, and, above all, a reason to live.