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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
Dreamend
As If By Ghosts
Graveface Records

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 1, 2004
The photograph is faded in one corner, the result of light hitting undeveloped film. Almost lost in the gathering, opaque gloom is the face of a woman sitting at a table with a baby in her lap. To her left is a man with horn-rimmed glasses, also holding a toddler, as is the rather plump lady in the foreground. The adults aren't talking; they aren't even looking at each other. The children, on the other hand, are preoccupied with the packages in front of them. It appears to be a picture of a birthday party or a church social that's winding down; the stoic, joyless faces of the people in the image indicate they're ready to leave - not just the party, but this dull, brutish existence we call life.

This is the cover to my copy of Dreamend's As If By Ghosts. And I want to emphasize that it's "my" copy because each and every package of As If By Ghosts is unique. It's a stroke of marketing genius. A different black-and-white photograph from the early 1900s has been inserted into each exclusive cover, framed in brown chipboard, for the 3,000 pressed for As If By Ghosts. And that's not all. Dreamend also includes a negative - mine is of a piece of abandoned farm machinery - and a page from an old book. It's like a box of Crackerjack from the Great Beyond.

Graveface Records, speaking through Tom from Black Moth Super Rainbow, says Dreamend did all this "To conjure the spirits of discounted memories …" for the listener. They needn't have bothered. The music would have done that with or without the antique memorabilia.

On As If By Ghosts, Dreamend conducts a post-rock séance where the medium loses control. One minute, poltergeists are throwing cymbals and drums kits around the room, crashing them against the wall, as a blizzard of guitar noise howls outside the window. In the next, everything goes silent.

Peace is restored in "Can't Take You", a sparse, slow-core waltz that dances in an abandoned hotel ballroom where Low plays to ghosts, while the haunting bluegrass of "Slide Song", with its plucked banjo, slide guitar and hushed percussion, carries you to a fog-covered graveyard deep in rural Kentucky.

A Mogwai-like storm begins to slowly build over the shimmering sea of guitar in the gorgeous, heart-rending instrumental "Ellipsis", the thunder of crashing drums booming in the distance as twinkling chimes shine through the clouds. Then hurricane-force winds of crashing cymbals and screaming guitar banshees whip through the "The Almighty," disturbing a haunted luau of vaguely Hawaiian-sounding slide guitar.

More of like gentle spring rains of notes than a sudden gully-washing downpours, "The Old House: It's Occupants" and its companion piece "A Sunny Holiday: A Shadow Ship" are mesmerizing, feeling like the soundtrack to a dream about some childhood tragedy you weren't able to stop from happening.

Filled with regret and imbued with sadness, As If By Ghosts has all the intensity of a breakthrough during therapy. It's not a record that makes you want to share the listening experience with someone else. The thoughts and memories it stirs up are much too personal to be brought out into the open. At times, the loft-soft dynamic becomes a bit too predictable, but the experience is so powerful and so magical, it renders you speechless. Dreamend is operating on another plane of existence and leading you to the light. Go on and break on through to the other side.

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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