Monday, May 27, 2013

PopMatters: Disappears, KONE EP; Bibio, SILVER WILKINSON

This quarter is annihilating me in ways I've never experienced.  To break the monotony, here's a couple of reviews.  The first is a short one, tossed off-the-cuff and, to be quite frank, mangled by my editor beyond comprehension - not to mention attached to a lower score than I intended (a right the powers-that-be at PopMatters reserve, but still).  The whole thing:
These Chicago indie rockers cut three LPs doing PIL the way Interpol did Joy Division: all the gloom but none of the snarl, with mopey persistence taking its place. On Kone, they go full krautrock and subsequently come into their own. The 15-minute title track takes its time summoning creaking U-boats and air raid sirens from guitar squall as cymbals swell and crash overhead.  A down-tuned riff and vocals drowned in delay circuits and angst, together introduce something resembling a melody around the 6:30 mark, but it isn’t until the surf rock of “Kontakt” that Kone offers anything resembling a song, though even that doesn’t last. Disappears is far more interested in whipping up the most suffocating, resonant, prickly post-punk tempest anyone can manage 36 years after “Frankie Teardrop”  and judging by these bearings, they’re well on their way.

The second is a long one, written in the charitable auteurist spirit of knowing I like this guy's work and thus giving him the benefit of the doubt.  An excerpt:
With Silver Wilkinson, [Bibio] seems to be reeling in his widely cast net and reversing his metronome to demonstrate in the exposed details his well-honed mastery over diverse styles.  What that mastery yields, though, is a strangely detached listen. The sound is rich with the carefully patterned interplay of organic and digital, human and inhuman, melodic and moody, and it sometimes produces an assertive splendor, as it does towards the middle, at which album singles “À tout à l’heure” and “You’ are conjoined by the lilting “Sycamore Silhouette”. But it’s just as often kind of listless. If Ambivalence Avenue and Mind Bokeh were scatterbrained stylistically, they also compensated by cohering tonally. Mind Bokeh especially sustained a consistent and stimulating sense of melancholy as it veered jarringly between laptop pop, arch soul, and psychedelic folk, as if conveying a story—or, at least, the intimations of one—through studied genre collage. Silver Wilkinson is a slicker effort, and yet plays similarly to Bibio’s earlier ambient efforts: almost willfully failing to grab our attention, it recedes happily and wispily into the background.
On the other hand, one of the album's better cuts, set to scraps of 8mm (natch):