I’m finally getting around to listening to this for the third time or so. Given that this is a two disc set, I felt it was important to go through it enough to have enough to comment on. I took the share down because having the share up of a new, in print release isn’t really what this site is about.
Given I put this in my personal year end list (to be updated at the end of the month), you’d think that I’d have a lot to say about the record. However, a couple things came to mind when I realized I didn’t have enough insight after first listen to punch something out:
1. Not too many people have talked about this. ihatemusic has, and the venerable just outside has, but not much beyond that.
2. Maybe there hasn’t been much press because, even in this niche genre, without a label, a record can get missed entirely. The pressing of 500 should have helped, but you need some word of mouth.
3. Maybe something I said late last year holds true: there is a sort of “establishment” group in “outside” music, as bizarre as that sounds, and records produced outside of this collective (a group that collaborates quite often and is prolific) literally will be lost in the deluge of releases.
4. The length of this record is quite a bit.
To get away from the economics, I think the most basic reason why this is overlooked could be the substantial undertaking two discs of eai requires. Especially this sort. That’s a damn shame, too, because each and every piece on this album is fantastic. This is classy, austere, patient music. The duos proceed organically, with the interplay of guitar (especially untreated guitar on the second disc) and sampled snippets and electronics approaching a keen expansiveness that people hear in Tetuzi Akiyama (but I don’t as much). just outside made a great point: the second half truly feels like a duo with almost a call and response feel. One noise or snippet with a guitar strum/figure in response. What is interesting about this is a lack of polyphony, an intentional lack of layers in terms of texture, in the order of Morton Feldman. That is, instead of looking at what one figure means to the next (there is that, but…) let’s actually appreciate each figure. Let’s realize the amount of work to bring about distorted clips that warp and engage an acoustic instrument. I mean, that’s why fans of this music listen, right?
Indeed, the first disc, quite different in personality, presents me with a host of the qualities I enjoy about the genre. Texture, scale, pace… part of my problem in concocting a review of these is how different they are. I can’t be in one mood to listen to this. I need to give into the record’s multiple personalities. In fact, I resisted this to an extent - I always waited for the perfect moment to appreciate this with the right level of focus, but I found myself reaching for the first disc or the second. In the end, I realized I was being lazy and not taking the music on its terms, and I also gained additional appreciation for the work put into this release. This is some self-released shit that sticks out among a very talented pack of musicians. It has many facets, and I really made me sit and think about it. The fact that this record won’t be making a ton of lists because of label politics and its release date relative to the end of the year is a huge shame.
Not only did this give me a new appreciation for guitar and electronic interplay, it opened my mind to how formulaic my expectations of the genre can be. eai can be as disposable as pop for listeners that only want to hear more of the same. This record definitely fits the bill in terms of being what I like about the genre, but it is its own entity, and it refuses to be jammed into one mood. Great stuff, seek it out at the label link above.