Thursday, 13 October 2011

Curtains - 'Flybys' (Thin Wrist)

Curtains' second album continues the rampant short-attention span post-Beefheart pyrotechnics of Fast Talks, though with a bit more keyboards, a bit more space, and even some singing! ('Saga' is a weird, broken a capella plea to Spider-Man which is wonderfully off-key and distant and somehow just fits amongst all the instrumental malarkey).  Everything is brighter than before and the songs are both more deconstructed and more accessible at the same time  There's 22 of em, and it goes by pretty quickly, so the term 'song' isn't exactly a great description.  Atmospheric moments begin to appear in Curtains work now, even if they are sometimes fragmentary linking tracks.  These merge with the biting anti-rock, often transitioning from track to track quite nicely.  'Blink, Professor' is just a lumbering beast that keeps stopping as soon as it starts, and then fades into 'Asterisks by Moonlight', a great title if I've ever heard one.  'Asterisks' is brief but warm, with synthesised spacefuzz coming as a nice coda.  'Moment with Plankton', as the title suggests, could be interstitial background music for an educational science film from the 1950s - but while there's been plenty of synth bubbles documented already in these pages, it sounds unique and integrated with the more rock moments.   The guitar lines on Flybys are like a biting, attenuated version of Zoot Horn Rollo; the structured songs sometimes get into call-and-response hysterics ('Bummer with Cakes') or snake-eating-its-own-tail meanderings ('Telegraph Victories').  A few moments are actually tender, with the guitar having glimpses of bluesy pain before the unnatural setting takes over.  It's occasionally a cacophony but more often a willing, controlled holding back that seems to go against everything rock music should be.  Carducci probably hates this, but I think the rewards are vast.

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