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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
Black Moth Super Rainbow
Start A People
Graveface Records

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


October 1, 2004
It's early September, and I'm looking out my office window at a big oak tree covered with splotches of rust-colored foliage. Black Moth Super Rainbow would cringe if they saw it. Summer is dying, and on the wistful Start A People - the follow-up to 2003's Falling Through a Field - they offer up a tear-stained eulogy for their favorite season, premature as it is.

From the sound of it, you'd think Black Moth Super Rainbow was made up of schoolchildren with one week left to enjoy their summer vacations. They make the most of what little time they have left.

Nostalgic and as hazy as your memories, Start A People is an organic blend of languid synth tones and wheezing, robotic vocoders - think VH-1's "I Love The 80s" bumpers, minus the self-parodying irony - hitching a ride on shuffling trip-hop beats. This is electronica for people raised on PBS children's shows and retro video games. Seems to me that now is as good a time as any for Black Moth Super Rainbow's brand of escapist electro pop.

Put Boards Of Canada's Music Has the Right to Children next to Start A People, and it's easy to see a resemblance, but the two records are not identical twins: Black Moth Super Rainbow plays in a different environment. Where Music Has the Right to Children is a chlorinated, almost antiseptic indoor pool of sound, Start A People lays in an inner tube in an algae-covered swimming hole watching the sun go down. And despite how warped the textures get - probably caused by listening to too much My Bloody Valentine - it doesn't fuck with your head nearly as much.

That's probably because the melodies, though often kaleidoscopic and somewhat disorienting, are warmer and more playful, like in the vibraphone-based Moon Safari that is "Viet Caterpillar" or the sun-damaged "Seeeds", which sounds as if it's eating the tape it was recorded on. Here are the innocent daydreams of Daft Punk, set to Def Jux-style beats. There's nothing disturbing or unsettling about Start A People. You can't say the same thing about Boards Of Canada. Frankly, they frighten me a little, especially on "The Color Of Fire" - that freakish children's cult psychotically singing "I love you" in a round makes me shudder every time. But that's neither here nor there.

The thing to remember is, Black Moth Super Rainbow isn't out to scare anyone. It's feel-good folk-tinged house music your grandparents would love. In "I Think It Is Beautiful That You Are 256 Colors Too", twinkling synthetic chimes and swirling keyboards orbit around what sounds like the voice box of a throat cancer survivor who laments, "I don't wanna live through winter/ I can't stand to see everything ending" but is, nevertheless, overjoyed to be alive. And therein lies the charm of Start A People. It's got all the life affirming magic of the very thing it worships, namely the sun. "We're standing in a field/ The sun is all we feel" says Black Moth Super Rainbow in "1 2 3 Of Me", where the vocoder-treated vocals turn child-like over a subdued, yearning keyboard melody wafting through bug-infested air. The song puts you in such a state of bliss you'll swear off drugs, and it doesn't wear off. You swear you're age 10 again, riding bikes in the hot summer sun to the local market to blow your allowance on penny candy. And when the rushing synth water and looped acoustic guitar plucking greet you in the contemplative "Hazy Field People", and the medicated happiness of "Smile Heavy" sweeps over you, you'll smile even as BMSR asks, "Why does the sun go down?" and "Why do we all go away?"

As mellow as the 70's, Start A People is a kindergarten arts and crafts hour - without the macaroni and paste - held in a recording studio. The album's hues are both muted and garish, kind of like professional baseball uniforms from that era. Somewhere, Oscar Gamble is smiling as he puts on his old San Diego Padres gear to see if it still fits. Wonder if he still has the afro? Black Market Super Rainbow does and it's tie-dyed. I get the feeling they'd like to buy the world a Coke, even though they're probably a little short on money.

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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