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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
Various Artists
Song of the Silent Land
Constellation Records

Rating: 8/10 ?

October 1, 2004
In a way, a person can never stand still. Life forces one to act in such a manner that the essence of a person may be said to be something which is always behind or away from them; something surpassed or obsolete, or something to be accomplished but never actualized.

This continual striving in the face of a lack of foundation has been, for seven years now, acutely crystallized in the ongoing efforts of Constellation Records. From the coarse sound-art excursions of re:, to the terse romanticism of singer-songwriters Elizabeth Anka Vajagic and Frankie Sparrow, as well as the lamenting orchestrations of GYBE and ASMZ, one misses the essence of Constellation precisely by capture it. With such an indifference to ever being exhausted, the music of Constellation serves as edification and awakening to the lingering possibilities a person harbors.

Song of the Silent Land properly portrays the label's breadth by including pieces from each of the artists they support. Compositions, thirteen of which are previously unreleased, stem from Do Make Say Think, Fly Pan Am, Hangedup, Polmo Polpo, Exhaust, Sofa, 1-Speed Bike and Sackville.

These pieces are able to touch upon each band's essence, while branching off into uncultivated territories, thereby providing something of interest for both newcomers and devotees alike. Of note is Vajagic's "Stand with the Stillness of This Day". Dressed in more bare attire than that of the original, the song appears as an intimate folk-blues rendition, with Vajagic's breathy moans closely mic'ed and stripped naked so as to expose every pursing of the lips and clearing of the throat. Other selections, such as "(Re) view From The Ground", with its marriage of feverish viola to propulsive drums, are fine sketches of the environments the respective bands have been sauntering through with their full-length efforts.

Reaching somewhat beyond mere reiteration, however, are compositions from Sackville, A Silver Mt Zion and Polmo Polpo. Something of a campfire folk ballad, Sackville's "This Machine" is a well crafted story told by a baritone voice, steel guitar and scratchy violin. And, while "Iron Bridge To Thunder Bay - an unreleased track from A Silver Mt Zion's Rusted Satellite sessions - is by no means indicative of their weepy orchestral nuances, the harmonic ranges being battered by the granular rumblings and cacophonous tones is, nevertheless, successful in eliciting emotion. Meanwhile, Polmo Polpo contrasts this crude roar with a buoyant bass and whistling slide-guitar melody. This lighthearted moment, as well as others provided by Black Ox Orchestra and Frankie Sparo, are well placed in so far as they afford one moments of relief from the more demanding compositions, which do in fact wander off into noisier territories than one might imagine.

Despite drawing an apt portrait of its artists, certain pieces in this compilation do, nevertheless, leave something to be desired. Much in this vein is Do Make Say Think - whose entire Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn is remixed into a five minute track - is commendable in theory and ambition, but, with its crash guitar distortions and grating textures, forgoes their signature inventive harmonization between instruments and skillfully modulated relationships among densities and textures; it creates a rather uneventful piece, which fails to leave much in the way of lasting impression.

This work closes out well, though, with a live GYBE concert finale performance. Marked by a lulling glockenspiel, a biscuit tin beat and sedate strings ebb and flow, it sets a stage for the earnest, somewhat woeful viola to stride swiftly upon.

Wrapped in textured cardstock with metallic foil printing, this is a release which has seen noticeable care in its making. It finds Constellation veering off into noise territories akin to those explored by Growing, while still touching upon the emotional bravura for which they are known. Ultimately, Constellation is conveying sentiments and crafting music which is needed now perhaps more than ever.

Reviewed by Max Schaefer
Nocturnal qualms and eyes that brim like lamps betoken slender sketches, poetry and short stories strewn alongside piano playing, a fiddling of knobs and murmured dialogue with a medley of electronic gizmo\'s. A twenty-one year old person lodged within the University of Victoria, Max harvests organic sounds on a sullen sampler, watching water unwind like two broad lengths of ribbon and nursing a book below the canopy of a cheery-tree. Max believes that the world is made present by people\'s presence in it and that art is one such way in which a distinctive disclosure might be crafted.

See other reviews by Max Schaefer



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