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
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.