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neumu
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 
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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

44.1 kHz Archive



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Black Box Recorder
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Passionoia
One Little Indian
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My pre-review-writing listening habits — the ways in which I gather the sensory input crucial to transforming these shiny silver discs into these words that flow through my fingers — tend to be varied. When I get a new record, I listen to it in different environments while trying to think of something worth sharing about it. Comfortable on the couch in my surround-sound-equipped living room, remote in hand to skip from track to track and even disc to disc, jotting down the occasional note. Groggy in the morning, listening through the tinny speakers of the CD shower radio as splashes of water and dollops of shampoo filter the sound waves on their way to my ears. On headphones going to or returning from work on the El, shoulder-to-shoulder in a tight tin can with my fellow commuters, entering quick fragmented thoughts into my PDA. Through the modest factory-installed stereo in my car, in the relative freedom of the semi-open road, singing along to the choicest bits. Late at night, as my pillow further muffles the sounds emanating from the ancient speakers beneath my headboard — their magnets and coils and cones encased behind a screen of straw-like material — dreaming of writing the perfect review. And then, as I come to actually begin writing in earnest, through a pair of crummy plastic computer speakers set at right angles to one another.

In most cases, listening to music in at least one of these ways gets my mind going. And last time out, on 2000's The Facts of Life, the music of England's Black Box Recorder (a trio that sounds like the sinister older sibling of St. Etienne, mimicking that band's roster of a female singer and two male instrumentalists creating synth-heavy pop that exists in a world outside of time) resonated most with me when heard through headphones. A lot of music that relies heavily on computer-generated sounds is best experienced this way, as if directly wired to the brain, the sound entering from two points just millimeters from my actual gray matter. But its fatal inability to stimulate anything besides the brain poses a sizable problem with Passionoia, Black Box Recorder's cold and lifeless third full-length release.

That this is not music that makes one feel is not too great a surprise, considering the band is led by ex-Auteurs man Luke Haines, whose constant cynical sneer makes the Fall's Mark E. Smith seem cuddly by comparison. But where his previous Black Box Recorder records effectively lampooned the worst aspects of contemporary British life, the objects of his derision on Passionoia scarcely seem worth deriding. "New Diana," for example, runs down the cult of the late Princess of Wales, hardly a topic worth the bother. "Girls Guide for the Modern Diva" and "Being Number One" dig into equally barren turf, while "Andrew Ridgeley" similarly examines the silly triteness of celebrity worship. OK, Luke, we get it — celebrities are shallow, empty-headed, soulless people, and make us all the worst for investing our thoughts and hopes and wishes in them. The dated, Euro-disco "These Are the Things," meanwhile, is an inferior lyrical rehash of the last album's "Straight Life," which explored the trappings of growing older and putting down deep roots of the sort that ultimately strangle rather than anchor one down.

On a song called "Child Psychology" from Black Box Recorder's debut, singer Sarah Nixey delivers a wonderfully blunt line that goes "Life is unfair/ Kill yourself or get over it." But even as that line typifies Haines' general sentiments, it's also ironic insofar as he so clearly hasn't gotten over the unfairness of things. Passionoia, then, may well be the sound of Black Box Recorder offing itself. R.I.P.


by Steve Gozdecki




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