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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
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+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
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44.1 kHz Archive

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The Curtains
Vehicles Of Travel

There's experimental music I can stand and there's experimental music that I can't. I can stand this — nay, more than that, I can really dig this.

It's not easy. It doesn't immediately grab you and reel you in with hooks. It doesn't make you feel sentimental, or really emotional at all. Instead, it touches other cerebral vortexes of the mind, reaching into dark crevices usually reserved for those rare occasions in which you're forced to think really, really hard; something The Curtains, undoubtedly, had to do in order to create these recordings.

This stuff takes some serious thinking. You don't pull it out of a broken heart or grab it from some inspiration floating languidly by. You gotta sit down and let your brain hurt for a while to get this. You have to let go of everything you normally associate with music and song. You have to let go the notion that music requires things like structure and melody. That doesn't mean spitting out a bunch of chaotic noise like you're dumping a truckload of instruments on the pavement. It means finding a new way to arrange sounds in nontraditional order and still come out with something powerful enough to touch the listener. It's discovering the sense in nonsense. And, after having thought really hard about it, I believe The Curtains have scored big with Vehicles of Travel.

"Sometimes a pop anthem needs a little on the side," says a male character in the song "Hooligans"; the vocals are breezy and distant, making the character sound as if he were talking to you from the dark corners of your mind or in some weird dream. And the man, Max Maxwell, is right — even pop lovers need an alternative every now and then. And being that they don't fall into the thrashing, incohesive, hardcore experimental meandering, The Curtains — light, spacey, minimal and complex — dish out just the right alternative.

It should come as no surprise that The Curtains' sound, featuring Deerhoof drummer/keyboardist Greg Saunier, recalls Deerhoof's. Instruments — strings, keys, beats and the occasional electronic effects — are arranged so that they overlap and intersect in ways you know someone had to hurt their brain over. On first listen, the music seems sluggish and unassuming, sounding like the unpredictable tinkering of a child. But listen harder, think harder, and it becomes clear that these songs, all 22 of them, are not the result of some improv session. Funky and groove-soaked, "Cops in Cologne" sounds like it could have occurred on some dark, red-lit stage in a '60s Beat poet club, while the ominous "City of Paris" is definitely threatening to come and get you with its swift tickling riffs and soundtrack-ish builds.

Someone carefully orchestrated this set. Someone worked hard at making the spiraling, go-nowhere guitar lines meet the bizarre time changes, and the menacing bass and tribal drumming thunder oddly on the horizon. You might be getting the idea that, indeed, there is structure here, but don't let my rendering mislead you. While traditional instruments are on hand and they make their respective traditional tones, the places that they go, the curvy paths they take and the brilliantly bizarre ways they choose to travel together are astounding — this is one hell of a vehicle.

by Jenny Tatone

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