I bought this CD after seeing Movietone in concert.
In the review of the show, i predicted that even though i thought
them weaker than opening act Japancakes in a live sense, i would
enjoy the Movietone CD more. Boy, was i right! Just for fun,
go ahead and read my review of
the Japancakes EP i got at the same time as this CD.
To sum up, i loved Japancakes live, but hated their EP. Live,
i thought that Movietone were kinda dull. And yet i love this
CD. However, even as i was seeing them perform i thought (through
too many birthday beers) that the music was brilliant, but too
minimal for a crowded basement full of drunk music fans.
It just didn't translate to the place.
Maybe, had i been in the right frame of mind, they could have
transcended the limitations of The Eyedrum and filled the place
with their beautiful minimalism, much like The
For Carnation were able to do at The Echo Lounge. Or maybe
the fact that Movietone did not achieve such transcendence has
to do more with the place. I'm not too sure. However, i would
like to point out that The For Carnation
album is a good comparison to this disc. Minimal, quiet,
Movietone are very minimal and quiet. And yet, they
are the midway point between the avante-jazz percussion of Tortoise
and the string drones of Godspeed You Black Emperor! combined
with the breathy vocals of Portishead. Oh, and throw some piano
into the mix as well, just for fun.
Offhand, this might not sound like such a good idea. But it
works. It really does. The music is light and sparse, with each
instrument exploring its own turf. This makes for some really
neat sonic textures. Consider Year Ending, which is a
song of simple keyboard, guitar, and clarinet drones played
over and over and over. It is simply beautiful, and builds to
a wonderful crescendo. Or how about Porthcurno, which
is another beautiful song of light piano and Kate Wright's sultry
mellow voice. Or Night In These Rooms, which features
an acoustic guitar strumming in a forcefull, almost western
or mexican fashion over clarinet and keyboard noodling all covered
with Kate's voice.
Movietone do a wonderful job of combining the various sounds
to make interesting texture. And yet, i think what they
are trying to do is describe space. And action. Get it? MOVIE.
TONE. See, they are trying to describe things with sound. I'm
not so sure that i "get" all of what they are describing as
accurately as i could. I really just like to sit, listen, and
let my mind flow.
This is a great album for sitting around late at night and
just listening. There is so much going on in the songs that
i recommend using headphones to catch each and every nuance.
Just sit there, and let Movietone paint their sonic pictures
for you. There are lots of neat places in this CD to explore.
Which brings me back to the Movietone concert. Since what they
do is describe space, i have come to believe that the low quality
of the "place" they were playing in (which is, basically, a
run down basement) affected the show in a bad way. Maybe next
time they play Atlanta it will be in a better venue. They would
be amazing in, say, Smith's Olde Bar.
Anyway, i highly recommend this CD. Great listening.