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TG Mauss
Mechanical Eye

Descartes mused that the sadness of man owes to the fact that he was first a child. Once dislodged from a world of imposing statues, of being happily irresponsible, one greets a fragmented world much as Greek scientists would Copernicus' notion of the earth as just another mass spinning in space: with knitted brows and downtrodden gaze.

Mechanical Eye is thereby an attempt to venture back and satiate oneself in the full-throated gaiety, the careless whims, lighthearted laughter and wide-eyed wonder of childhood. Artists such as Múm and Boards of Canada have been harvesting such fields so fervidly that one might imagine the soil to be exhausted, yet the crops of this album manage to find an ample plot in which to develop and grow. There is a whimsical, tender patience to pieces such as "Konitiki" and "Bay Shore"; the soft toot and chime of glockenspiels sketch a sky of glistening stars seen from a green grass-field of bucolic guitars, while warm, fluttering voices are layered over the instruments as though they inhabited parallel universes.

Other pieces boom like bad dreams wrestling one from a cool night's sleep. "It Lies Within," for instance, rubs scratchy electronics together like two sticks, igniting a faint spark of grating machine noise. "Real," meanwhile, marks a shift in perception, as Mauss' character begins questioning his passing fancies: "Is it real/ Is it just another vision/ Did you know you are capable of tearing it all apart?" The song is adorned with light pads that pong and ping, strings that sweep back and forth, and loops that bounce infinitely like perpetual-motion machines. Latter works further this loss of innocence with the introduction of a smoky ambiance, a cheap, somewhat sleazy house beat, or a doleful twist in the previously lullaby-ish lyrics.

That Mechanical Eye has such a specific theme affords this work a certain unity and clarity of expression, all of which makes the eagerness and joy that went into the album's construction most palpable; indeed the whole album bristles with the air of a child joyously scribbling in a color book at his own precarious whim. Rife with tiny details that signal a meticulous care and attention to a fluid progression of events, manifested in subtle background events from birds bobbing in the water to chickadees engaged in cordial conversations, Mechanical Eye is a fine testament to the pleasure and sadness that dwell in the closets of childhood.

by Max Schaefer

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