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REVIEW FROM 'COMES WITH A SMILE' CAME WITH A SMILE
04/30/2002

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Comes with a Smile, London
CWAS #11

http://cwas.hinah.com


RIBBON EFFECT | ep98 (False Walls)
TINY HAIRS | SUBTLE INVISIBLE BODIES (False Walls)

The inaugural releases from Chicago label False Walls are two CDs that meld differing degrees of chaos and control, both borne out of live group improvisation.

'ep98' constitutes the first recordings from Ribbon Effect, whose debut album, 'Slip', was released last year. Building upon melodic or textural ideas culled from improvisation, the three-piece construct slow-burning instrumentals that build to an energy that imbues a sense of movement. Bearing comparison to Directions in Music, Ribbon Effect layer repetitious riffs, which gradually emerge out of abstract ambience, mutating through interlocking phases towards pulsing crescendos. ‘ep98’ is a haunting collection whose use of accordion as the lead instrument signposts their blending of the organic and the electronic.

Slightly less tangible is 'Subtle Invisible Bodies', from Chicago improvising sextet Tiny Hairs. Like 'ep98', it's another mix of ambience and aggression, silence and noise, stasis and dynamism, and other polarities besides, another record that unfolds its moods with patience and melancholy. Not without ambition, Tiny Hairs can be dreamlike and poignant like the more abstract, soundscaped moments of Hood, where melodies uncoil out of a melee of atmospherics. But perhaps 'atmospherics' is the wrong word, nominally demoting what is an essential aspect of the music, because Tiny Hairs achieve a balance, where the found sounds and electronic trickery that is often seen as an intriguing backdrop to the more 'musical' portions, is afforded equal aural status. On Extensive and Well Catalogued Collection of Aspirated Objects (they apparently take some pride in their Gastr Del Sol-esque faux-academic song titles), the live seventeen-minute album closer, their collectivity is apparent as melody emerges from the instrumental fog with a palpable sense of the players feeding off each other. It's a gratifying end to a great album.

- Martin

 

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