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The Cause of the Colour

  Oppressed by the Line  
  Self-released, Club AC30, DriftingFalling  
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Oppressed by the Line is the one man project of Jon Thompson, a Texan living in London. He makes mellow, ambient electronica with a fair dose of effected guitar. This EP was self-released back in 2006, and a copy was sent to us, where it languished in the ever-growing promo stack among dozens of female singer-songwriters, Radiohead-derivative bands, and quirky Atlanta based music. I hereby formally apologize to Mr. Thompson for it taking so long to get to this. Sometimes these things just happen.

The thing is, this EP is worth hearing, and fortunately it is now more widely-available than most self-released discs, due to Mr. Thompson's newfound affiliation with the DriftingFalling label. He is also affiliated with some British label called Club AC 30, although the affiliation is not as clear from his website. Well, no matter, the fact is that this EP is available for those who are interested.

Thompson packs 6 songs in just under 30 minutes on this disc. Let's look briefly at each.

Fragmented kicks things off with a burbling of synths that build slowly for a minute, until Thompson's voice comes in, along with a drum machine stuttering a beat. Thompson's voice is heavily echoed, and perhaps a bit too high in the mix, but it works well. Eventually some distorted guitar comes in as Thompson layers multiple vocal tracks to add a thicker sound. The overall effect is a sort of Project Skyward meets My Bloody Valentine affair. Not bad.

A Brief Moment of Clarity continues the same general theme: a long slow synth intro, then layering voice and drum machine. The drum machine here thunks along in a much deeper tone than the previous song, and the layering of voices is more discordant. That is, rather than harmonizing with himself, here Thompson is singing along with himself, almost as if some of the vocal tracks are backup singers. A neat effect.

The next track, A Painting of a Tapestry, follows a different format. This is instrumental, with a happy synth line dancing around a haze of drone, eventually to be joined by a frenetic drum and bass beat. A female voice sings wordlessly over the last half of the song, and i think that it might be a sample fed through a keyboard rather than an actual female collaborator. At any rate, this is an interesting tune -- when the drum and bass bit kicks in over the drone, it is kind of shocking. And yet, it works.

Thompson is back singing on The Fall. Here he plays piano, and the voice is echoed in a way that makes him sound like he is singing down the hall from the rest of the instruments, perhaps in a tiled bathroom. There is also a nice, simple guitar riff that wanders through the song, to great effect.

Even is an almost instrumental track, and by that i mean the voice is almost completely buried in the keyboard and guitar haze. The song starts off with a drone and a nice drum riff, then slowly grows to include synth strings, Thompson's half-heard voice, and some distortion. This song generates a vaguely dreamy, sleepy mood. Nicely done, and my favorite on the whole EP.

Thompson's ends the EP with Solieri Complex. His guitar wails under layers of distortion, and the voice is back in the front, still highly echoed. This is accompanied by a simple drum beat, and a tinkling piano bit. It slowly picks up steam, building to a layered guitar frenzy that is his most My Bloody Valentine-ish work. Not bad at all.

The individual songs on this EP are pretty good, but i think what it mostly shows is potential. Thompson did all of this himself. Think what he could achieve with more advanced technology at his disposal! DriftingFalling hint that there will be a full-length sometime soon, and that is something to look forward to.

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