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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
Reagent Specs
Monitor Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
I always preferred writing in pen, and usually in blue ink. I once heard somewhere that writing in a color other than black can help you remember more precisely what you have written, and sometimes I swear it actually works, but maybe it's just a sort of placebo effect. Let's face it though, pencils are too haphazard, too likely to fail, or to write too lightly to be legible a few days latter, too prone to smear, and to break. Besides who wants to get up in the middle of class to sharpen a pencil while your professor and classmate's eyes bore searing holes in the back of your head, or try to hunt down that little hand held manual sharpener that you keep at home that, when needed, takes damn near an exhaustive F.B.I. type search to locate?

I like the idea that when you write something down in ink, it's going to stay that way. It will be a permanent record of how your brain processed a given thought in a singular moment, and even if you scribble it out, there is no way to make the mark it left cease to be there. Reagent Specs resonates with this truth. Since it was simultaneously written and recorded, the album's vibe remains loose, jangly, and dark; imbued with a feeling that as listeners, we can tell where the band's mistakes existed, and where they chose to take pride in a moment's authenticity, letting it stand as is, regardless of whether or not it was as close to perfect as was originally intended. When present, the rich bass tones sit in the forefront of the mix, driving the tunes while trebly guitars toy around notes and stab at chords like a small child at the dinner table, being forced to eat something his mother cooked, but which he thoroughly detests. The pace of the majority of the tracks is plodding, but insistent, like Slint washing down valiums or quaaludes with cocktails, although tracks like "Real Life in the Decoder" do help to jump-start the pace some. Still, the disc predominately features post-rock done slowcore style for incredibly neurotic indie-hipsters. Feedback, electro-noise, strings, and other more eclectic instrumentations give the song's timbres some texture, while bongos, tympani, and other percussive sounds are more memorable than the beats the drum kit emits. The lyrics are fragmentary, and rather evocative, though frequently inaudible; yet they do help set the dark mood that the music contained on the disc reinforces. Trying to imagine what The American Analog Set would sound like if they had been molested as children would probably conjure up a close description of how the attitude and mood inherent in Reagent Specs plays out.

Though all this may sound like an interesting and exciting concoction, this disc failed to leave the permanent impression that its creator's namesake suggests that it should. Granted, I feel like a good number of people will shit themselves and fall in love when they hear this disc, and if any of the previous descriptions make it sound like this band would be right up your alley, I suggest you check it out. As for me, the songs are too engaging, busy, and piercing to function as background music, but also a bit too ambling to kept my attention rapt. As much as I want to try to stop myself from saying this, Ink is going to need to invest in a few drops of white out before I become completely sold on them.

Reviewed by Mark Skipper
Mark Skipper currently resides in Nashville, TN where he can be found skipping shows, drinking Guinness, making bad home recordings, and complaining about how much music sucks these days.

See other reviews by Mark Skipper



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