Six Going On Seven / Hot Water Music: Split 7" (Some)
Lowercase: Imbedded in Ice (Punk in My Vitamins)
Knives in Greenwater / Racebannon: Split 7" (Witching Hour)
Bästard and Yann Tiersen: Bästard~Tiersen (Ici d'ailleurs)
"La Mancha" is the most minimal, but it's also the most undeniably eerie of the set. The marimbas sound like drops of ice water dripping on the small of your back, the bass reaches out to tap your shoulder in the dark, the odd trumpet hits come out of nowhere to make you jump a bit. "Twins" is the most classical-minded, albeit so dissonant and quease-inducing that it borders on atonal. "Marvelous Marvin Agler" is a pure rock out, with an insistent drum beat and a frantic string lead that is at once chilling yet so inviting. The album is less about the sound than the mood it evokes, one of vague paranoia, mild claustrophobia and most importantly, utter enthrallment. No matter how uncomfortable the sounds are, and especially during "Twins" they can get quite uncomfortable, it's impossible to not listen to see what happens next.
If it doesn't come across that much above, the best part of the whole experience is that it messes with my moods a bit. I'm a very emotional listener/rater, so any time that an album can invoke a new set of feelings in me, one that music rarely accesses that is, I'm inclined to look kindly upon it. The fact that this is just marvelously composed on top of that is just icing. [8.9/10]
Faraquet: Parakeet (Mise en Scene)
This being the first material to emerge out of the break up of overlooked DC art-punks Smart Went Crazy it's obviously not going to measure up to the brilliance of their swan song Con Art. What's shocking is just how close it manages to come. Drummer Devin Ocampo and guitarist Jeff Boswell's side project-turned-main band was already an established unit in the final days of SWC, and as presented here it seems to take all the artier inclinations of that band and separate them from Chad Clark's overriding melodic edge. It's a mere 7 minutes of material, mostly instrumental and lacking the sort of instrumental variety that made The View From This Tower one of my favorite albums of the 00s, but within that scope it does remarkably well. It's already obvious the the trio (Ocampo, Boswell and Chad Molter) are a remarkably tight unit, navigating the sharp turns and odd time shifts of "Um Die Ecke" like it was nothing and imbuing the fairly straightforward, loping "Parakeet" with the sort of subtle colors that a lesser unit would leave out. It's also obvious that as good as it is there's plenty of room for growth, and that's outside of knowledge of just how much growth there would be between here and Tower. [8.5/10]