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LITERATURE

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

MUSIC

 » 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
Blindfold
Blindfold
Resonant Label

Rating: 7.5/10 ?


July 8, 2005
With a feminine fluting of electronics, lilting guitar arpeggios and a plodding Rhodes piano, "Vert" paints an atmosphere of streets pelted by ice, soot-flecked snow and the haze of a feeble sun filtered through scudding clouds. The mood is that of restless nights spent wandering under a moon that looks like a bloodshot eye, when, in an eerie quiet, one hears the hum of solitary street lamps and the fall of snow upon snow.

On many of these compositions, Birgi Hilmarsson is aided by countryman Stafrann Hakon on guitar. Hakon's presence is noticeable, but not dominant, in the throaty howl of the struck, bowed, hit and plucked textures, all of which glisten with wide-eyed wonder before being drowned in effects. Stuttering percussive events and crusty electronics slither harmoniously, sketching a backbone around which elegant, minimalist guitar motifs ring out like cry of gulls circling the sea.

Such pieces are stark, and winds of ambience bustle like the swirl of snow that causes a constant blinking of the eyes; these moments don't allow one to ever gain one's bearings, instead resigning to simply capture fragments of the experience. These pieces maintain an element of novelty, even mystery, as the identity of instruments and other source sounds remain a fluttering blur. When a chanting croon of what one assumes to be human voices arises from underneath a bed of sluggish guitar patterns and limp waves of modulated bells, one imagines they must have scuttled across a choir practicing or perhaps a pack of children singing carols at someone's doorstep.

The ensuing moments in tracks such as "Blindfold", "Nightfall" and "Lucky Beach Riviera Song" are full of mysterious coming and goings: watery synth's spool tonal waves, multi-tracked harmonium figures that trace percussive loops and surge like torpid tides and reverberating guitars that emit bright, baubly melodies.

In particular, "I See Through You" is buoyed by long-held drones and swelling organ chords, the sound of which elicits a chalky cloud, woven into a labyrinth of languid strings and swooping bursts of synthesized sound. Birgir Hilmarrson has a lovely, chaffed warble but does well to employ it sparingly, allowing its periodic arrivals to remain as intimate and fleeting as the sublime, elegiac instrumentals. For all that, Hilmarrson and company maintain a somber commitment to rhythm: "Don't Despair" and "Myrkfalni" are sustained by crisp, snapping beat textures and densely crosshatched network of tones. Still, these fluctuating sub-bass figures don't disrupt the late-night, melancholy mood, providing new elements to be ruptured by surgical incisions of high-pitched electronic squeal or flutters of clumsy percussion.

On "Bokubornin", Hilmarrson intones ,"Let me fly away/Let me fly away with you" through a pristine, spacious web of choral chords and subtly keening guitar feedback. Like most dreams, the work ends unexpectedly, but leaves a most indelible mark in its quiet desolation, ghostly delivery and minimal but penetrating observation.

Reviewed by Max Schaefer
Nocturnal qualms and eyes that brim like lamps betoken slender sketches, poetry and short stories strewn alongside piano playing, a fiddling of knobs and murmured dialogue with a medley of electronic gizmo\'s. A twenty-one year old person lodged within the University of Victoria, Max harvests organic sounds on a sullen sampler, watching water unwind like two broad lengths of ribbon and nursing a book below the canopy of a cheery-tree. Max believes that the world is made present by people\'s presence in it and that art is one such way in which a distinctive disclosure might be crafted.

See other reviews by Max Schaefer

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