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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.
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 » 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!
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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
1 Mile North/Colophon/The Wind-Up Bird
Conduction. Convection. Radiation.
The Music Fellowship

Rating: 6/10 ?

April 29, 2005
1 Mile North, Colophon, The Wind-Up Bird, Conduction. Convection. Radiation. - three groups that I've never heard of, featured as the third edition of a series that I didn't know existed, in a style (experimental) that I rarely listen to. It's OK though, don't get scared. To accurately describe something you don't know much about, one can perform two basic actions: learn more about that unknown or use what you do know to describe it. The following is a combination of both methods.

Many people freak out upon hearing the words 'experimental music.' Conduction. Convection. Radiation. is proof that while the style does have an esoteric stigma attached to it, it can be accessible, given the right amount of attention.

To those who have enough patience to fully listen, the split is a good showcase for what can be achieved in electronic and rock music without the typical instrument usage and music theory. No, guitars are not underlined in lower-octave electric bass melodies with a 4/4 drumbeat behind them, and the verse-chorus-verse pattern is definitely nowhere in sight. In a way, the non-standard experimental form allows unlimited freedom to a range of songwriting capabilities, but it simultaneously steers away from any typical rock 'n' roll developments.

What results is a mixture of sounds and ideas that is unconventional listening for most individuals. The overall feel is unobtrusive sound, static and contemplative at the same time. One can't help but feel as though the compositions were intended as background noise, perhaps even as a film score.

1 Mile North starts the effort off with "East Coast Harbor." Oscillating ambient electronics slowly lead into dark, ethereal synth effects and Jeff Parker-like (Tortoise) subtle guitar pluckings. Mark Bajuk (synth) often gives a sense of breathing electronics, while Jon Hills' guitar speaks a calm melody over the top. Track two, "Ashes and Dust", edges similar dynamics except substituting piano for guitar in the group's best Craig Armstrong impression.

Colophon is Tarentel's Jefre Cantu. His efforts are polarized - the first, a short (2 min., 3 sec.) white noise-afflicted, four-note trippy piano sequence, followed by a twelve-minute long atonal oscillating synthy organ sound and lastly another impersonation of Armstrong with semi-effected piano sounds playing sparse (mark that, lonely) harmonizing notes to a natural noise static background. The second Colophon song - entitled "Texas Heat" - is along the lines of "Track 6" from Directions in Music, which builds for eight minutes under a deep bass wave, earth-grumbling sound of movement.

The Wind-Up Bird finish up with tracks that take a somewhat more vibrant, formulaic approach. All of the group's songs are named after the instruments that are performed on them. "Violin & Trumpet" throws a nice string/wind aspect (ala Rachel's) to the entire mix. Likewise, other instrumentation is made obvious with "Voice & Sine Wave," "Voice & Bells," and "Guitar & Bass" (tracks 8-10).

One of the essences for enjoying such a release is taking it out of a conventional perspective. It could be seen as repetitive and effortless - or more aptly, experimental and minimalist. Any way you take it, Conduction. Convection. Radiation. is not a release to play at house party or to keep you awake while driving cross country. Rather, it is for calm and speculative times - a group of songs that form together as one conceptual flow and keep your comprehensive palette of music fresh and ever-expansive.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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