On Saturday.22.July.2000 The For Carnation played at The Echo
Lounge in East Atlanta, GA. Tracers and i went to this show.
We went because neither of us had anything else to do that night,
and because the show had been billed as "Featuring ex-members
of Slint" on posters at The Echo Lounge for quite a few weeks.
Slint, for those of you who don't know, were an amazing rock
band from Kentucky. Their album Spiderland is
in many ways the most influential album in the post-rock genre.
I could go on about this, but just trust me and go track down
So The For Carnation is the new band of Brian McMahan, vocalist
of Slint. It was worth checking out in my opinion. Tracers describes
the show quite well, and i recommend you go read her review
of the show. Go ahead -- i'll wait here until you get back.
Okay, well after the last few lingering notes of the show had
faded from the air, Tracers and i both dutifully trotted over
to the Merchandise Table where we participated in the Capitalist
System and spent our money to allow these artists to eat.
I took the album home and threw it into the bookbag that i
carry to and from The Office. There is stayed, as i fondly contemplated
the show and recommended it to all my friends. But i avoided
the album -- surely it couldn't compare to the sheer beauty
that they displayed on stage.
Eventually i broke down, pulled it from the bag, and placed
it into the CDRom drive. Headphones in place, i sat down to
work and listen. I repeat: i did not expect the album to accurately
convey their amazing live sound.
As the album flowed through my headphones i was continually
impressed. It sounds at least as good, if not better, than the
live show. WOW! At present i listen to this CD quite a lot,
and have recommended it to friends.
So what does it sound like? Well, it's a quiet album. There
is subtle guitarwork and mellow keys. The bass moves in a real
meandering, loping sort of pace -- not in a hurry to get anywhere,
but aware that forward movement is occurring and must occur.
On top are layered McMahan's vocals to great effect. His voice
on The For Carnation is kind of like Tom Waits
or Nick Cave. Not in that gravelly "i smoke way too much"
sort of way those two have, but more in the delivery. The lyrics
are not so much sung as they are spoken, lightly, in a tone
of voice that is at times menacing and at other times depressed.
And then there is the percussion. It is used not to provide
a backing beat, but more as an accent to the light vocals, the
minimalist guitars, the keyboard nosies, and the other sounds
that occur on the album.
On the whole i am very impressed. This is a minimalist ablum
of perfectly balanced components. And i see that the CD was
produced by John McEntire (see also: Tortoise). Well that makes
sense doesn't it?
Overall i highly recommend this CD. It doesn't rock, but it
conveys a deep sense of beauty and appreciation for the world.
I guess, after all is said and done, that it's Art, dammit.