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


 » 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]


 » 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
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Keith Fullerton Whitman

Rating: 9/10 ?

March 14, 2006
If a repertoire as expansive and diverse as Keith Fullerton Whitman's is required to bear a recording of Lisbon's alluvial magnificence, then the musical world may just have presented its case for justice. But to confine to a recording of this nature to 'the musical world' would be unjust. Whitman skirts about the confines of music, instead exerting his fascination with the capabilities of sound. As with many scientists of this ilk, his focus switches to surface texture and ambience; to the understated elements of audio that, when given their warranted attention, conjure the most expressive images.

The context into which Lisbon falls is of marked significance. In this instance, Whitman's modus operandi represents a breath of fresh air as, in his own words, he decided to "relax, and not sweat the details." Lisbon duly presents itself as a barely-edited, single-track recording of Whitman's performance at Galeria Zé Dos Bois on October 4th 2005, documenting his adoration for the Portuguese capital. In essence, Lisbon is nothing short of a masterpiece. It serves as a blueprint to the harnessing of sound - pure, unfettered and uncompromised - whereby experimentation is key but not overbearing.

Playthroughs is a good perspective from which to describe Lisbon's broad aura. It begins as a loosely formed group of pulsing sine waves that are gradually collected and expanded upon a foundation of synth compositions. From the onset, Lisbon invokes warmth and melancholy, with more in common with "Fib01a," which appeared on Playthroughs, than with the more distorted compositions that appeared on Multiples. The piece is allowed to saturate over the first ten minutes, before high-end frequency tones emerge and inject it with momentum. Whitman's muscle-work is most clearly palpable at this point, as processed guitar frequencies are shifted intermittently, and the piece enters hazier territory.

Part of Whitman's ingenuity lays in his ability to swing the mood with such subtlety. Each phase emerges with such care that by the 18-minute mark, Lisbon has crescendoed into a majestic passage of splendour, and it's impossible to pinpoint a defining moment in its growth. In the light of the expanded major-chord intensity that peaks upon 25 minutes, one can only imagine how evocative it would have sounded during its inception.

Whitman experiments with field recordings towards the piece's closure, before gathering his senses for Lisbon's finale, which expresses the diversity he has managed to utilize in one sitting. While its credentials alone (it clocks in at over 40 minutes) may be enough to scare off some inquirers, Lisbon makes for a surprisingly digestible listen. Recordings of this precision are assumed as bibles for their adopted genre. The field of electronics couldn't have found a more suitable candidate.

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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