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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
Ane Brun
A Temporary Dive

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

April 5, 2006
One minute and 23 seconds is the time that's showing on my Walkman when something magical happens to "Balloon Ranger," the third song off Ane Brun's A Temporary Dive. Up till then, that track and everything before it had seemed like rather ordinary singer-songwriter mush. Even the song's gentle, shifting-sand percussion and odd desert guitar flourishes couldn't drag it, or this record, out of the coffeehouse.

But lo and behold, Brun escapes the bonds of traditional folk gravity and she does so at this very moment, when the timer ticks off 1:23. Suddenly, a little fairy dust devil of light, airy piano and light acoustic guitar forms and swirls about, and it lifts the bridge of "Balloon Ranger" ever closer to heaven. An awakening has occurred. The scales have fallen from my ears.

No longer imprisoned in a catatonic state of disinterest, I become aware of the subtle beauty of A Temporary Dive, Brun's second album. Hidden delights like the mystical classicism of the opener "To Let Myself Go" and the bluesy despondency of "My Lover Will Go," augmented by swooping strings, come to the fore, like a stranger walking out of the fog. The minimal accompaniment of Brun's meditative acoustic finger picking, performed with delicacy and troubled expression, in the title track and "Rubber & Soul" gives Brun an appropriately empty stage from which to expel her inner demons in soul-baring lyrics. The same is true of "Laid In Earth," Brun's reverential reworking of a 17th century aria written by Henry Purcell, but it's the lovely mix of violins and cello arranged by Malene Bay-Foged that sends it hurtling to the depths of despair.

"I must fill your space with light," sings Brun, swimming in the black pool of piano in "Where Friend Rhymes With End." The rope that held her fast to someone close has come undone and they have drifted apart, but Brun is still hanging onto her end. If only she could pry open the door to her estranged friend's dark room and bring that person some happiness, some brightness, then things will go back to the way they were. Only Brun knows it'll never happen. Themes of betrayal, cold indifference, grief and loss permeate throughout A Temporary Dive, but it is Brun's telling of her own defeats and bouts of self-loathing that create a wonderful, yet almost uncomfortable intimacy between artist and audience here. It's really no different than Henry Rollins revealing that he's an irredeemable liar, but because the confession is screamed and buried in loud, angry guitars, it somehow comes off as less self-pitying and perhaps more honest. Don't take the bait.

Haunted by Nick Drake, A Temporary Dive offers a Scandinavian take on 60s British folk music, mixing in classical influences and trying to somehow connect the pained optimism of the Negro spiritual with the experience of a white European woman prone to depression. Brun's vocals carry with them the naked yearning of Tracy Chapman and the coy intelligence of Fiona Apple, and she picks good people to work with. Co-producer Katherine Nuttall helps create a dank, but clean atmosphere, and even adds a touch of whimsy with the circus sounds she provides to "The Voice." And Ron Sexsmith adds his weathered tonality to the celebratory "Song No. 6."

"Total absence of grace, your reluctant voice says, 'You decide your own fate.'" That's a line from "Rubber & Soul," and it's vicious. Brun describes herself as crawling on the floor and violently ill as she hears those words directed at her. A bit over the top, you say? Undoubtedly, Brun goes too far with the self-flagellation, and at times, the arrangements are too simple, too dogmatic. But Brun has a real flair for tastefully blending modern and traditional elements together to create something timeless and emotionally wrenching. Her time is now.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad



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