traumatic harmony
the pataphysical study of randomized sound
The Brave and the Bold

So it's been almost three months since I posted about the Tortoise/Bonnie "Prince" Billy collaboration, and in that time it was finally released on Chicago's fine Overcoat label. I, of course, got it as soon as it was released and listened to it pretty much non-stop for a few days. My intital reaction is that whoever decided it was a good idea to use the unacquitably horrible Umbra font for the album text should be immediately fired from all future layout activities. The rest of the packaging is nicely minimal, but that godawful Umbra makes me want to gouge my eyeballs out. But enough on typography, on to the music itself.

I've never spend enough time with either Tortoise (once upon a time I had a copy of Millions Now Living Will Never Die, but it got lost years ago) or the various Will Oldham incarnations (a deficiency I plan on rectifying in 2006), so I can't really comment that much on either's back story and how this album fits in in either's voluminous catalog. What I do know is that The Brave and the Bold is remarkably hit or miss; the good songs are fantastic, and the bad songs are ponderous at best, and the album vacillates between the two basically every other song. In short, the odd numbers win by a long shot. All of the even numbered songs are langorous, lugubrious, viscous masses of sound that display all the pretensions of Tortoise's post-rock roots. "Thunder Road" is an especially curious, recasting the song as an ominous, imposing dirge, with Oldham's vocals sounding especially pained. Very bizarre. But the even numbered tunes (Milton Nasciamento's "Cravo e Canela," the Minutemen's "It's Expected I'm Gone," Lungfish's "Love is Love," Devo's "That's Pep!" and Richard Thompson's "Cavalry Cross") each show a different side of this pairing. "Cavalry Cross" is essentially the opposite of "Thunder Road," a brittle, gorgeous version that doesn't try to clutter up the inherent beauty of the original. It's probably also worth noting that Oldham sounds very similar to recent Thurston Moore on this track. I've talked about "That's Pep" already, and it continues to be my favorite song of the minute. "It's Expected I'm Gone" is very much in the same vein as "That's Pep," a straight up rocker that has enough space for Tortoise to imbue it with their own signature.

This album proves one thing to me: that Tortoise would make on hell of a rock band. Forget this post-rock bullshit; give them a regular vocalist and they would make the best backing band in the world, provided they don't get bogged down in overly complicated structures or ideas. They're incredible musicians with a great conception of how to manufacture aural spaces (perhaps that's why they float above the rest of the post-rock they spawned), even within the confines of someone else's songs. 
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Location: Durham, NC

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Albums/Things of the Moment

Gal Costa - Gal
X - Los Angeles/Wild Gift
Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians
The Factums - The Sistrum
The Dark Knight
Jay Reatard - Matador 7"s
Sub Pop Singles Club III
Mississippi Records
Byard Lancaster

Radio Waves

lexicon devil
agony shorthand
keeping score at home
something I learned today
deadly tango
her jazz
strange reaction
god and a bottle in me
in case of mishaps
20 jazz funk greats
funky 16 corners
moon sash
mental archipelago
crud crud
just for a day
little hits
everything is fire

Odds and Sods
my old wprb playlists
my reviews on dusted
dusty groove

August 2002 / September 2002 / October 2002 / November 2002 / December 2002 / January 2003 / February 2003 / March 2003 / April 2003 / May 2003 / June 2003 / July 2003 / August 2003 / September 2003 / October 2003 / November 2003 / December 2003 / January 2004 / February 2004 / September 2004 / December 2004 / January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / July 2008 /
all posts before december 2004 are old wprb playlists. I wish I could say I've been blogging that long, but that's simply not the truth.

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