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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
I Am a Vowel
Et Op La Bang
Fang Bomb

Rating: 8.4/10 ?


March 28, 2008
Drone is one of those genre distinctions that, when you hear it described, sounds like a joke. "The humming of high voltage wires." "The sound of ice melting under water." "Music created by sampling stones." There are plenty of examples of how hilariously absurd it can seem when attempting to visually explain the intricacies of such a seemingly monolithic yet potentially textured genre. Adding to the perceived lack of legitimacy is the fact that only in certain cases are such descriptions close to being accurate. In the case of French artist Nelly Larguier's project I Am a Vowel, however, such left-field textual translations are truly apt.

Her album debut, Et Op La Bang, is a very creative effort that uses nothing but stones and vocals as instruments, with recorded samples cut to pieces and pasted together. The experimental nature of I Am a Vowel might throw a lot of people of, but the result is a very interesting and fresh-sounding sonic mass. Whereas most drone artists tend to make their music thick, layered, and, well, droning, Larguier opts for a more pitched and clicky sound, where sharp cuts bounce peacefully up and down atop a base layer of more traditional drone-like white noise. The immediate results, especially when coupled with the notion of what Et Op La Bang exactly is, makes for a fascinating listen, where every slow (we are talking drone here after all) twist and turn offers something new for hungry ears to feast on.

Larguier also uses her voice to an extent that is rarely heard within the genre; the softness of her vocals rests in a nice contrast with the sharp edges of the rhythms (is it weird to consider rocks clacking together as beats?). Although no traditional lyrics are to be found, Larguier manages to pull off the vocal experimentation without it sounding like a pretentious art-school mess. Of Et Op La Bang's eight tracks, "Mille Spirale" and "Bang" are the stand outs. Both tracks capture everything that makes I Am a Vowel's music stand out from a crowd, with their stuttering beats and harmonic vocal experimentation.

Much is made in music criticism, especially when considering experimental electronic structures, of the distinctions between organic and synthetic sounds, and in that traditional context Et Op La Bang's distinctly synthetic sound presents quite a conundrum. After all, could anything be more organic than stone?

Reviewed by Daniel Svanberg
A contributing writer for LAS, Daniel Svanberg now lives in Boston, far far away from Sweden, where he once lived, although the weather is the same.

See other reviews by Daniel Svanberg

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