It took a few months of mulling, but I’ve decided to pull back on my music reviews for The Silent Ballet. I’ve written over 50 reviews for them in the last 2.5 years, and I’ve learned stuff about music I never even knew existed (I will now have an answer if you ask me what “plunderphonics” is). I will still serve the site as an “auxiliary editor,” meaning that I can pretty much grab a record to review whenever I feel like it. This works really well for me, as it means I can devote more time to building my freelance portfolio in other directions, and at the same time stay somewhat connected to what’s happening in the avant-garde music world.
By way of some shoddy attempt at a looking-back moment, writing about these often beyond-fringe bands/artists has showed me just how deep into sub-worlds the internet allows us. It can be a monstrous, numbing distraction, but it also allows non-mainstream art to survive outside of its physical locale. I’m not one for grand predictions, but it seems that post-rock and long-form experimental music in general might not have survived on such a global scale as long as it has without the internet. A friend of mine in the band Caspian told me once that they played one of their most packed and enthusiastic shows ever in Fargo, North Dakota, even though they’re from Boston, and had never played anywhere near Fargo.
It seems like a contradiction to my last article for State of Formation, but there are places on the internet where true connections are being made, particularly through the lens of art, and not some kind of label-obsessed ideology.
Oh, right. The review.
Well, before I get there, I did get the chance to write some small blurbs for TSBs end-of-year list. It’s a great break from full reviews as they’re short, and usually about bands/tracks I absolutely love. After having to be critical, it’s nice to just nerd out.
This year, I wrote 8 blurbs for the Top Tracks list. They are:
- “Empathy” | Crystal Castles* (see #46)
- “Colouring of Pigeons” | The Knife (see #36)
- “Window” | PVT (see #35)
- “The Motion Makes Me Last” | Eluvium (see #26)
- “Odessa” | Caribou (see #13)
- “Escape Artist” (see #12)
My last review before the indefinite hiatus is on the German dub dude, Volker Kahl, known here as Kattoo. To me, the music is fairly drab, but Kahl tries dressing it up with a veneer of cleverness. The result is kind of like serving Sloppy Joe’s on a silver platter. A sample:
Dubby IDMer Kattoo wants us to peel back a lot of layers to get to the heart of its latest album. While this would normally mean that a record is intuitively deep, it seems that these layers might be just a tarpaulin stretched thin over a dirt-packed path. Take the apparently impregnable album title: l–ll-ll l-ll ll-ll- l-ll- l–l-ll l–l-ll ll– ll– l- l–l-. That interplay of pipes and dashes lends a cold, industrial feel to the snaky, cobalt album art; a sci-fi Gobi feel is communicated. Yet the ruse, when decoded, is paltry: a morse code-like translation yields “Reivoottak,” which is “KattooVier” or, in English, “Kattoo Four.”
So, all that to say: this is Kattoo’s fourth record. Read More
*props to Grant Hanna for helping school me on Crystal Castles’ “typical bass beat syncopation”