The most difficult reviews to write are the
ones for music that doesn’t move you at all. The music you love
inspires you to gush and rave. The music you hate requires you
to spit and rant. But the music that just sits there all “blah”
in the corner of your mind, the music that blurs along in the
background while you're tweaking spreadsheets at work, but never
pushes itself into your forebrain, is the most dreadfully difficult
to write about. Rather than opening up and letting the words
flow in rivers of metaphor, you’re stuck in hard-pack desert
with a pick and the hopes of well water somewhere below. A
Slow Messe is that kind of music for me.
The band consists of members of Godspeed
You Black Emperor! and singer/songwriter Scott Chernoff.
The textures of the music are a sort of Godspeed Lite: orchestrated
strings and subtly layered percussions blended together into
a bleak but tempered aural pallete. Chernoff’s vocals recall
those of Will Oldham's Palace. Both the music and the vocals
are executed well, with art and flair, but it all fails to grab
me. It doesn’t do anything for me. I have found it to be a pretty
good soundtrack for dinner parties though. Throw it in with
a few random classical compilations and maybe an Orb long-player
and you’ve got great background noise for hours and hours.
That’s the thing about this record: it stays in the subliminal
areas of the brain, chugging along pleasantly and artistically
enough, but it just doesn’t pop at you. It doesn’t step front
and center and demand your attention. It doesn’t require
listening. There’s not that threat that you’ll miss something
important if you blink.
A lot of people have reviewed this album highly. There are
a lot of positive adjectives floating around the web glorifying
this disc. I’m not going to call those people liars. Maybe there’s
some door in my head that will open up and “get it” in a couple
of months. Maybe. But for now, I’m just not finding anything
there to inspire. Granted, it’s good in a way. If I couldn’t
stand the thing, I could probably write for days and days about
how it sucks. As it is, the silence of mediocrity may be a blessing.
No words are better than bad words, I guess. So until something
snaps and I see the beauty underneath, I’m giving A Slow
Messe 3 sponges and moving on.