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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
Hrsta
Stem Stem In Electro
Constellation Records

Rating: 7/10 ?


June 3, 2005
Atop fields of stubble, limbs thresh away like dwarfish puppets full of vim and vigor and one's ear catches the squeal of rusted machinery amid dancing sparks and the clamor of cogs. Much along these lines, Stem Stem In Electro, the second solo effort of a man named Moya - a founder of GYBE and member of Set Fire To Flames - has all the resonance of a child striking a piano, half-blackened by smoke and flames; its warped wood and heat-damaged strings emit a sound that hangs in the air with weird mystery.

Violins stride swiftly over strings and sound like gears stuck, as howling winds of groaning guitar, laced with psychedelic timbres and tones, pass over rhythmic minor-key chord progressions, to craft a state of trance, enveloped by a horde of people chanting "we come and we come to the light". The compositions deft use of repetition and blustery guitar squalls, which remind of Loren Connors, beckons a meditative approach akin to thumbing beads on a rosary in prayer. Though behind a dusty piano, this mantra is maintained on "Blood On The Sun", as the bulky, plodding piano-keys are soused in a purring film of guitar-feedback. The controlled feedback forms a crisp extended drone, which stammers from a shy background position, to grappling with and, at times, dominating the piano, such that it seems as though it were sobbing in an adjacent room.

Numerous compositions appear as works forged out of gaps. Pieces such as "Quelque Chose A Propos Des Raquetteurs", with flitting guitar figures and mists of earth-toned organ, sketch moods much like impressionist painters create figures: disparate, thick lines coalesce into extraneous forms, faintly recognizable, prescribing merely a potential for meaning and allowing listeners to fill the blanks.

Whichever way they work, Hrsta - which for this effort enlists the aid of Sophie Trudeau, Beckie Foon and Eric Craven - demonstrates the sort of rapport gained by way of a communal cooperation found in previous moments together in outfits such as GYBE. Patience is precisely that to which "Swallows Tail" speaks. Wailing electronics augment the fiery ensemble playing, as flurries of bowed notes push their way through the din of clanging guitar chords. All the while, the piece emphasizes a precarious balance between dissonance and harmony; slithering timbral explorations of sympathetic frequencies and gilded shimmers of mercurial forms glide through time and space as an effortless, slow motion kaleidoscope of monochromatic sound.

Succeeding the cacophonous weave of field recordings and seething, scratching metallic percussion that is "Heaven is Yours", "Gently, Gently" is a return to harmony. Supple, arched tones of organ stretch out like long shadows on a balmy evening. Still with sharp edges, the organ at times feels gritty as it clasps for one's ears with a timid longing. Atop this, Moya's guitar finds its feet and his voice, a sweet nasal warble, reaches out to touch the ascending organ. The song is touching and one wishes it might have lived longer than its seemingly brief three-minute life span.

The work on a whole suggests one who wishes to overcome a self-imposed alienation. By treating the world as something present-at-hand, as a stage to be stared at, the person is reduced to a submissive spectator, who is as inessential to the articulation of the play as the play is to its own being. And since the world reflects upon people this choice which is confirmed through this world which it has fashioned, a vicious cycle is formed and all becomes seen as a collection of things - as mere mechanisms to be taken apart and reassembled at will. So, like the silhouettes drawn on this albums cover, people climb through their own compositions, not towards a positive affirmation of existence, but as an absence; they treat the ends as absolutes toward which they thrust themselves, independent of the will that projects them. Stem Stem In Electro, then, permeated by a sense of failure, indicates that there is something to lose and that people can indeed lose it - but it is precisely because people can lose that they can also win.

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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