Monday, March 7, 2011

98 the Hard Way: EPs, Day 6

Third Eye Foundation / V/Vm: Split #1 (FatCat)
Matt Elliott's mode of choice for non-album singles seems to be pretty well set by this point: bifurcated compositions that mix dark drum n bass with meditative acoustic drone. It's a formula for sure, but like with each of his albums under the Third Eye Foundation moniker he finds new ways to approach what others might be tempted to simply sleepwalk through. "There's No End In Sight"'s take on this formula is one of a much, much more epic scope than any that came before, unfolding over a sprawling twelve and a half minutes while seeming to throw out a new layer to the landscape every thirty seconds. It also marks the first definitive step down the path that would give us Little Lost Soul a couple of years later, more fully developing both sides of the track even if he's not quite integrating them at this point. The development is quite something too, showing just how comfortable in his role as producer Elliott was becoming this far into his career. The first part especially takes all the best aspects of Ghost and You Guys Kill Me's DnB tracks and watches them bounce off each other with fascinating results. Then the second part ends with the sort of ambient uplift that Stars of Lid would kill for. It's on a short list of his most essential tracks for sure.

Given the depths I got into there it might seem like I'm setting up for another entry in the 'split releases that do no favors to one of their featured artists' series, but while I can't say that V/Vm's side matches 3EF's, I can't really say that they embarrass themselves either. The material they present here is quite interesting really. Very dark soundscapes built on non-standard sample choices ("Lumberjack WLTM" occurs over a bed of power saw samples) with nods towards Power Electronics in the production. It's the sort of sound that I'd be curious to see develop over a larger stretch than what is offered here, but the four pieces on his side are at least interesting, and in this genre interesting is half the battle.  [8.6/10]

Download link courtesy of Experimental Etcetera

Stars of the Lid: Maneuvering the Nocturnal Hum (Earworm)
Writing about Stars of the Lid is hard. There are only so may ways to say variations of 'Ooh, pretty!', and when that's your stock and trade...well you're not exactly built for hefty dissection from me. Aside from the pretty, and there is a lot of that to go around here, what this amounts to is a mid level drone piece that while pretty is also a bit boring in a way that SOTL rarely succumb to, and a massive slice of them playing live that pretty much reduces me to the sort of bleary-eyed bliss out their best material can induce. So where does the B side go so right that the A side manages to miss completely? Well, it's all about atmosphere. The A side is sterile to a fault, especially the "(Porch)+" section which wafts along for 15 minutes without doing much besides being, well, moderatley pretty. The B side on the other hand sounds like a living, breathing organism. It's just as drone-y and minimal, but there's a depth to it, a pulse for lack of a better metaphor, that elevates it for me. And that's taking into account the random 'WOO!' from the crowd that interrupts it at one point. [7.4/10]  

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