October 20, 2011

Do you like this?

Le Révélateur


(Gneiss Things)

I’m not a Luddite, but technology has definitely spoiled us; I wonder if it has also made us less patient, and an article in The Atlantic entitled “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” comes to mind, about the notion of the Internet causing our collective concentrations to drift. I also wonder what modern audiences, with their seemingly short attention spans, might think of the new album, Fictions, by the solo project Le Révélateur from the former guitarist of Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Roger Tellier-Craig from Montreal.

In French, “révélateur” can refer to the bath for developing photographs, evoking a complicated, meticulous process that nowadays has been largely supplanted, of course, by the instant gratification of digital photography. Although the name “Le Révélateur” likely is a reference to the French avant-garde film of the same name, another film comes to mind when listening to the glistening, layered synthesizer patterns of Fictions: Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up, and in particular, the lengthy scene where the protagonist tries to unravel a mystery by continually blowing up a photo and isn’t exactly sure what he may have shot—underscoring a theme of visual deception. Half of Fictions is comprised of the 18-minute opener, “Receiving Mirages,” a title which hints at its ambiguity, dealt with measured steps of percolating synthetics somewhat like Raymond Scott’s electronic work, but with cascading sound washes; the listener isn’t sure what’s he’s hearing, nor where he’s going. The track builds gradually, but there is no resolution or climax.

“Age Maze” is more dense and engaging, with high-frequency sparkles and gushing outpourings, like the manner of someone enthusiastic to speak her mind, going through two cycles of dips and peaks, and “Bleu Nuit” is split into an ambient, spacey half and a pulsating half, coagulating then dissolving. Fictions is a time-arresting album that will envelope you if you have the patience, and it’s more about the process and the journey then arriving at a moment of clarity.

Kids On A Crime Spree

We Love You So Bad


The American indie label Slumberland Records has been enjoying a resurgence in interest, with bands such as The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Crystal Stilts, but the remarkable thing is that its aesthetic has largely remained the same for mire than 20 years, delivering melodic pop inspired by British C86 sources and/or classic early ’60s American pop, sometimes with an affinity for guitar distortion. The group Kids On A Crime Spree is a perfect fit for Slumberland Records, offering its debut release, the 8-song mini-album We Love You So Bad, packed with concise pop songs that use tried-and-true chord progressions, chugging noisy guitars, and standout guitar melodies.

Front man Mario Hernandez formed Kids On A Crime Spree fueled by a long-standing obsession with the (utterly essential) Phil Spector retrospective boxed set Back To Mono and both its richness and simplicity, and he’s joined by members of one of his other bands, From Bubblegum To Sky, drummer Becky Barron and guitarist Bill Evans. Hernandez sings with his high-pitched, somewhat childlike voice that is reminiscent of like-minded popster Robert Schneider of The Apples in Stereo, and the mini-album launches with “I Don’t Want to Call You Baby, Baby,” a two-minute burst of Jesus and Mary Chain-esque fuzz-guitar minimalism, with lightness provided by a tambourine and vocal harmonies. “Sweet Tooth” uses the most basic garage rock/pop riff with unabashed handclaps, and “Impasto” slows the tempo down slightly with a reverb-drenched, gloriously muddy tune with flashes of feedback. Those who may point out that Kids On A Crime Spree isn’t particularly original are exactly right, but for lovers of nostalgic pop from various decades, We Love You So Bad is a solid, lean offering with easy hooks and the courtesy to end songs before they get boring.


October 20, 2011

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