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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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No Age - Everything in Between
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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
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Fat Possum
At the Close of Every Day
Zalig Zijn de Armen van Geest
Loose Thread Recordings

Rating: 5/10 ?

October 1, 2004

These are confusing times for the Dutch. A second politically-motivated murder in the Netherlands in two years has placed the country in the epicentre of idealistic and religious uproar. Theo van Gogh, a controversial film director, who had released a movie considered to be offensive to Muslims, was shot and then stabbed to death in Amsterdam. Praised for its democratic and tolerant standards, the nation is panicked and a strong police investigation is underway, aimed at shattering terrorist plans in the intersection of various fundamentalist cells throughout Europe.

But not every artistic statement in the Netherlands is as disruptive. At the Close of Every Day is a joint adventure of multi-instrumentalists Axel Kabboord and Minco Eggersman, and it is made for headphone escapism. When addressed for the first time, Zalig Zijn de Armen van Geest ("blessed are the poor in spirit") happens to let us pick up a juicy little nugget about the next reruns of the record. The autumnal and very seductive feel perpetuates all the way through the album and its various listens.

With numbers like "Hallways" or "In the Light I Wrap My Tears" put together with a Low-informed deployment of affective imagery and the path to light, the lyrics may fall on deaf ears. Not that the duo deliberately apes Low, but sometimes the saddened ambience is too obvious, too shuffle-inducing. And they are certainly not under experienced - they have played with Sixteen Horsepower, Arab Strap and Badly Drawn Boy, to name a few -, but at one point Zalig Zijn… is indeed burdened by its meagre, solemn lyrics.

The obvious take from this bilingual experience is "The Sound of Someone Watching Me", a delicate, guitar-picked, well-driven song for fireplace gatherings. Elsewhere, it's the "songwriter meets tuneful instruments" formula being chewed and regurgitated. I'm not trying to paste a Record to Avoid If You Like Music tag to this debut record - besides, Zalig Zijn… has been acclaimed by critics certainly more enlightened than me. But this Low-like sonic debris translates in lines, indecisive of whether it rains or the sun shines way above ("Rain or Shine"), that can really get on my nerves.

Anyway, influence is everywhere to be seen or heard. And if At the Close of Every Day owes a great debt to milestones like Low's Things We Lost in the Fire and In the Fishtank, as the 9-minute closing track "Lower World" can demonstrate, they pay that debt back in full - even if the track has four minutes of pure silence in the middle. But my struggle remains the same. I long for a low-voice record which possesses balls of iron - to sound mesmerizing but powerful, silent but spasmodic. I know that Mark Eitzel has been working on this for years. And thus the passionate claim: Godspeed all the American Music Club comebacks!

Don't get me wrong: Zalig Zijn de Armen van Geest is a magnificent soundtrack for a lonesome drive home, and won't disappoint you if you do not expect more than that. Sometimes it's nice when you lower your expectations as well as your defences.

Reviewed by Helder Gomes
Currently living on the south bank of the Tagus river, in Portugal, Helder Gomes is a working class hero. He is a journalist for the local radio station Rádio Nova Anten. In his spare time, he skates and watches many odd movies. He is in love with the French nouvelle vague, and the Danish/Swedish invasion. He writes for a number of publications, on the Internet or otherwise, notably the underground Portuguese magazine Mondo Bizarre, and the Jazz Review website. He is also the news collector and a staff witer for the adorable Lost at Sea. Oh, and there is also the Coffee Breakz radio show that he tries to host every Saturday.

See other reviews by Helder Gomes



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