Thursday, November 20, 2008
Man's last great invention - none
From Nebraska, Man's last great invention bring is None. (eh?43) - a departure from Eh/'s standard productions (as you would expect) with a striking cover which is a coloured copy onto transparent paper, stuck on to the white card with adhesive labels, and the information (title, band etc) appears to be typed (yes, there is a dent where the full stop is). Track titles are n, o, n, e, . and the untitled 6th track (why couldn't they think of a five letter title?). And musically, as hinted in the Beard review, this explores different territory again for the label.
The Myspace page lists a cast of thousands (well 16) across strings, vocals, percussion, keyboard, film projection and more. The music could best be described as psychedelic minimalism - washes of sounds, echoed instruments and chanted vocals for an extended 70 minutes.
The album opens in almost silence - just a tape hiss into which deep long synth lines and ringing guitar emerge. A sweet ethereal voice sweeps through (my thoughts are the Cocteaus, but slower, or Dead Can Dance) supported by bass, and sliding directly into the second track (o) continuing the pace and method, building into clouds of sometimes almost industrial sound. A held tone takes us into n, with looping percussive scrapes, and here singing takes the track into quite a dramatic, almost harsh, climax (with perhaps a little too much distortion) ending with a dying tone.
e (the fourth track) opens quietly, redolent tapes hiss again building some subtle tones and then focusing on echoed bass and possibly guitar with some percussive effects and a flt-flt distortion. Towards the end a vocal line comes in, more keening and at times sounding almost like a Middle Eastern horn, but sliding into . (5) where some guitar adds to the mix with more vocals.
The final track again emerges from the silence, strange distorted sad voices (sounds of coughing can be heard, suggesting live recording, other noises too - maybe a site recording - but the overall feel is liver than the others), percussion, water flowing and a darker sound. A full drum kit takes a solo, and involves us in a much more activity, with a bleaker mood - possibly the tone of the voices - and broader instrumentation (pumps of woodwind, scraping guitars, synth woobles).
This is a broad, expansive album, creating sweeping atmospheres with the title 'tracks' while the untitled final third of the album presents a more forceful side of the ensemble. This sounds improvised, suiting the eh? remit, but with an ambient edge. Engrossing
(final note: I have described the album in three parts as that seems to be how the sounds flow. The editing however is poor - 2 second breaks between tracks which are obviously designed to flow together, breaking the atmosphere)