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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Fennesz
Endless Summer
Editions Mego

Rating: 9.5/10 ?


January 18, 2007
That's right, a 9.5 out of 10. It doesn't get much better than this. It barely seems possible that Christian Fennesz could have produced a record still considered so fresh by today's standards six years ago, yet despite the avalanche of imitators Endless Summer has precipitated since 2001, not one record has come close. Few artists can get away with reissues for albums still relatively easy to get hold of in their original form, but given the sheer splendor Fennesz strung together with Endless Summer, a reminder won't go amiss.

Endless Summer was Fennesz's breakthrough album, elevating him from the experimental electronics of Plus Forty Seven Degrees 56' 37" Minus Sixteen Degrees 51' 08" to a more accessible realm. To be sure, Plus Forty Seven Degrees made for an interesting, curious listen, but it never sounded like the end product. Following on just a year later Endless Summer took on the same exploratory principles, but applied them to a new framework - pop.

Although to my knowledge it has never been made official, Endless Summer was all about reapplying pop music to unlikely formats. While Fennesz's guitar was his main source, he was never content to let its traditional form play too great a role. Instead, he reconfigured it, letting chords resonate freely, layering the results, and drenching them in delay so that the instrument took on a completely different form. This basis was then worked around simple pop melodies and structures, and Fennesz's marriage of hazy electronics and hummable hooks was born.

And why not? The whole verse-chorus-verse-chorus thing has worked for decades - not least for Fennesz's beloved Beach Boys - so why wouldn't a capable individual seek to apply that format to a new, modern framework? Granted, noisy electronics and melody are no strangers to each other, but Endless Summer stands out as somehow sounding more pop than electronic, as a reworking of free-flowing sounds onto a solid grid, which had never been done before.

Opener "Made in Hongkong" is as purely electronic as Endless Summer gets - glitchy, percussive, noisy even, yet retaining a sense of melody, albeit cluttered. The title track, however, is where Fennesz really finds his niche. Based around a swinging two-chord progression, it twists the conventional sound of the guitar into an intentionally noisy haze, shining through the bursts of static that carefully define one layer from another. The dynamic "A Year in a Minute" sustains a melancholic riff through crushing waves of white noise and static, while "Got to Move On" exhibits Fennesz's claim that music can sound fast even without a beat. The bonus tracks, "Badminton Girl" (which previously appeared on a split 12-inch with Main on FatCat) and the previously unreleased "Endless" offer little in comparison, but nevertheless detract nothing from this superb album.

Unlike most reissues, the reason that this incarnation of Endless Summer has surfaced is not to move units, but so that those already acquainted can sing its praises all over again. On one hand, it's possible to dissect Endless Summer and explore its origins and meanings and gain pleasure from attempting to understand it on a deeper level, but sitting back and soaking in the beauty is just as rewarding.

Reviewed by Mike Wright
A staff writer based in London, England, Mike Wright is eternally troubled by the American bastardization of the English language.

See other reviews by Mike Wright

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