on 7 March 2005
I bought this expecting something similar to The Notwist, as it has been widely billed as a seminal 'indietronica' album in which Jimmy Tamborello enlisted a host of singers and musicians from the indie scene (including Chris Gunst from Beachwood Sparks, Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and Brian McMahan from Slint) to contribute to his soundcsapes. Indeed, one track, the outstanding 'The Dream of Evan and Chan', sparked a musical partnership between Tamborello and Gibbard that resulted in The Postal Service. This is actually much more aligned to IDM / ambient - closer to experimentalists such as Fennesz and Múm than those artists - with Tamborello toying with the guest vocal contributions, chopping them into pieces and manipulating them as if they were samples. 'Umbrella' pitches distorted a vocal refrain over a swelling cloudburst of drizzly digital effects to create a highly evocative and original opener. 'Anywhere Anyone' sounds like a mix between Fennesz's deconstructions - with its haunted and repetitive synths - and the solo material of Herbert co-hort Dani Siciliano. The jazzy vocal lick of 'I love you' is continuously interrupted with the afterthought of 'How can I love you if you don't love yourself', building into a melting pot of tensions and evocations. 'Fear of Corners' is dark, haunted (instrumental) electronica that reminds me of Murcof's cinematic darkness. There are disappointments in the mid-section of the album, the meandering title track for example, but that is more than made up for by the masterpiece 'The Dream of Evan and Chan', which melds Múm-style distortions with the surreal pop of Yoshimi-era Flaming Lips. With its dreamlike melody fading in and out of a blizzard of television static, it is a modern masterpiece of experimental pop. Finally 'Last Songs' veers towards the pastoral 'folktronica' of Four Tet, with its acoustic guitar picks tweaked and spliced. Not 'indietronica' then, but highly-evolved electronic music of depth and complexity.