“The Dead Sea” – ‘The Dead Sea’ & “Time Spent With Antique Mirrors” – ‘Teardrop’

Following ‘Dylan’, I managed to pick up where I left off with some pending albums I was throwing about, deciding whether or not they were actually worth reviewing. I’ve got about five – pushing on six – absolute gems, and it keeps getting better!

So, just to keep you guys up to date, my fellow blogger – Michael Hodder – and I, have come to a loose conclusion, or I should say, more or less I’ve guessed, that Sundays will now be our Joint-Review days. So, reserve a spot in front of those faithful machines of yours, peoples, Sundays on the computer are where it’s at…

From now on I think I’m going to manage a Dual-Review, say, every Friday. So just when you thought you were going clubbing, or on a boy’s/girl’s night out, wait!

“… Shh everybody, The Enantiomorphic God just wrote another review! Oh my god, the best thing since buttered-bread!” says one…

“Enough of this tedious waffle, Enantiomorphic God, get on with the review!” says an angry other…

[holds gun precariously on The Enantiomorphic God’s back]

… Yes, well. No, why would you think that? I’m not at all being forced at gunpoint to write mindless, tedious waffle…

"The Dead Sea" - 'The Dead Sea'

"The Dead Sea" - 'The Dead Sea'

My first impressions…

Wow…

That’s no understatement. And I’m really ‘gobsmacked’ that they’ve come out of Australia. I wasn’t expecting an album quite like this, not in the slightest. Back in ’06, ‘The Dead Sea’ formed, releasing their first EP in ’07, quickly earning a reputation that I think is well deserved. It’s totally beyond anything I thought Australian musical-comtemporists were capable of. I tend to find Australian artists dig themselves a heavy genre-rut in alternative and rock, for the simple reason they seem incapable of any successful musical experimentation. Somebody is sure to prove me wrong on this, for certain – but it seems there are too many ACDC-wannabe’s out there, which are hindering contemporary growth.

And, well, there we go – ACDC fans are going to find out my name, and hunt me down. It’s not that I don’t like their music, I think it’s great, and they’re pioneers in themselves for the rock genre alone; they’ve earned their position in musical history. But there’s no sense re-working riffs that sound reminiscent of the legends. It’s not new, and it sounds it. Reading reviews on this album, I think they’ve drastically underrated its potential, because not only is “The Dead Sea” playing with postrock/alternative influences, it’s seems able and willing to manipulate those very same genre-rut-elements I was rambling on about before, into something completely else. For what it lacks in vocals, it makes up for surprisingly well with fresh guitar, soft percussion, appropriate ambience and synth where necessary – on the cusp of drone.

Let’s put it this way, ‘The Dead Sea’ have all the ingredients they need to make a decent cake, and are three-quarters of the way there already. They’re set to bake.

But…

And there’s always a but: although they’ve managed, I think, with some marginal success in bending their boundaries, that is – some tracks have some flitting ambience, purely drone, others bring classic post-rock sounds onto the drawing board, whereas their third track “The Devil Bends”, suddenly we’ve got a voice panning left to right, bleeding in and out of sync. And I still love it all, it’s dropped ‘consistency’ and replaced it with ‘uniqueness’. While other songs shift into each other from beginning to end, some are self-contained universes that represent in themselves ‘The Dead Sea’s’ willingness to change. And that, my readers, is key – you and I, and all of us, have seen a band rework their previous masterpiece into something dead and boring, because they’re just using the same stuff, over and over. As we’ll see on Sunday, when I pick apart ‘Jarvis Cocker’s’ “Further Complications”, and why those further complications are its downfall. This seems to be ‘The Dead Sea’s’ slip-up when it comes down to other reviewers, however.

I like change, I like change enough so each song is different to the previous. I like drone when it’s used well, when it’s got some sound, compared to just the screeching of something. I like post-rock guitar and soft percussion to leave me shoegazing.

No, it’s not screamo, peoples, it’s music. “The Dead Sea” opens with a quiet metallic wind and a synthesised organ, with a mechanical whistle, in “Slow Jet”. And as its loudness grows, this synthetic forest becomes immersed in heavy, emphatic percussion and buzzing synth keyboard. It progresses wonderfully and powerfully, and maintains difference. Like all good songs, there are levels upon levels, upon levels, of instruments/sounds that build to a final crescendo, and then a subtle finish. I hold in high regard nearly all of this album’s tracks, but most especially, three very significant titles that literally-left-me-in-a-music-comatose. “Nulla Desiderata”, although not particularly long – sadly – opened my eyes, with its tinny-background instrument, and its building ambience.

I thought I knew what to expect…

But then, this buildup’s shift in key, its power, like a crashing wave, its potential for loudness. An epiphany – I’ve rarely found a song where I’ll just stop. But here it is, and what a brilliance, that tingling sensation of its xylophone running up and down your spine…

“Departure Gates” features a drab and dreary guitar, which riffs in harmony with a music-box-like instrument [It sounds nothing like a xylophone, I’m not sure what it is exactly – but it’s still great]. Then, as this progresses, guitars join, stop, Christmas bells take the lead, build another crescendo, and again, we’re in the riff. Wonderful…

And finally, “Banquet”, a drone classic. Much like “Nulla Desiderata”, it plays on those same themes, but in a different way. Listen for yourself and you’ll understand why.

Rating: I’m going to be generous and actually give it four-outta-five cakes, it has great potential, and this album of theirs deserves further recognition, and less backlash. 15-$20 is reasonable for me, the album is pushing on an hour, and tracks run on average for four minutes, with a few exceptions. Love it…

"Time Spent With Antique Mirrors" - 'Teardrop'

"Time Spent With Antique Mirrors" - 'Teardrop'

Believe it or not, ‘Teardrop’ is comprised of two people: ‘Jono Renton’ and ‘Pete Renton’ – brothers – and have been in the music industry for years. Their latest development “Time Spent With Antique Mirrors” takes influences from their previous work, which involved such artists as ‘The Album Leaf’, ‘Boards Of Canada’, and the ‘Aphex Twins’. So you sort of know what to expect already, but you don’t. It’s laden with synthesised-music, and computer-based ambience. Now, at times this might sound a little tacky and predictable, but ‘Teardrop’ makes a small exception. It’s not too hard to distinguish musical-loops in this instance, and at times can get a little repetitive, though.

I thought that “Time Spent With Antique Mirrors” was suitable for juxtaposition between “The Dead Sea”, seeing how what we associate with new-agemusic is slowly de-evolving into simple electronic beats with wispy sounds and hollow, non-existent instruments. But like I always say: to create a sound, any sound, there must first be an instrument for which to make it…

And I have to admit, nothing particularly grabbed me on this album, as did with “The Dead Sea”. The ‘Renton’ brothers are masters of their game – synthesised music: it’s why I left mainstream and came over to the dark side, where it all tastes better and there’s a buffet!

Yes, all you can eat!

But through these monotonous tracks, the ‘Renton’ brothers are still using that vital ‘levels-upon-levels’ technique, in that they’re building up on whatever loop they started off with, and are adding some others to back it up. But because they’re all at the same pitch, and are somewhat inharmonious, they’re vying for power, and it defeats the purpose. One instrument seems to be fighting for survival over another, as can be seen in the fifth track “Fiction”. And by the end of it, “What are you afraid of???” will be imprinted into your brain, as the conversation with – from what I can imagine – is some guy and some Scientologist as they bite each others heads off. It’s a filler, just like my reviews…

“BOOOOOH…. HISSSSSSSS!”

[too harsh?]

I’m not going to actually go through any of these songs in great detail, seeing as I’ve already written about 1500 words, in my spare time, when it could have been better used for schoolwork [horrible, horrible schoolwork]. Plus you’re probably getting bored. But I will say this: “Time Spent With Antique Mirrors” is consistent, all songs are like each other, if you look at it from my perspective: just like all purely-electronic music, there really is no lead unless a human is either singing, or playing an instrument, it’s just essentially loops that stop and start at intervals, to maintain the illusion of music. I didn’t mind the album, I suppose, and I’ve used it as a discussionary-tool. So, in itself, it was useful.

Rating: defenitely two-and-a-half cakes outta five. It’s alright, but after my second, then third, then fourth, playthrough, I knew what to expect. Money value? $10 on the spot, nothing more…

My hands are sore…

Until when,

The Enantiomorphic God

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~ by enantiomorphicgod on May 1, 2009.

2 Responses to ““The Dead Sea” – ‘The Dead Sea’ & “Time Spent With Antique Mirrors” – ‘Teardrop’”

  1. […] Original post by enantiomorphicgod […]

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