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Niobe

Blackbird's Echo

(Tomlab; US: 10 May 2009; UK: 8 May 2009)

I wasn’t expecting much from this record by looking at its cover. I know you’re not supposed to judge that, but in this case, it resulted in a very pleasant surprise. I figured Niobe’s fifth studio album would be typical singer-songwriter fare. There certainly is an element of that, but it is undercut by sample happy freak-folktronica. Much of it is slow but moving, minimal yet dense, loosely jazzy, boss nova, and indie rock weirdness, with occasional flourished into house and camp lounge. Guests to this bizarre garden party include DJ Olive, who adds a nice beat to his eponymous track, and David Grubbs of Gastr del Sol, who brings some avant-garde organ down for an off-kilter duet. The focus is mostly on surreal soundscapes and lyricism to match, as if Björk got Syd Barrett out of his bomb-shelter before he died and sat him behind a console. Bring the tea, and Blackbird’s Echo will deliver you a mad romp of a good time.

Rating:

Compelled to words by music since 2004, Ranta's words have appeared in such esteemed publications as Exclaim!, Tiny Mix Tapes, CBC Music, and PopMatters. He also regularly votes for the Polaris Music Prize, Village Voice Pazz & Jop, Juno Awards, and in all local, provincial, and federal elections. Based in East Vancouver, he's been known to a rave and/or rant, cat whisper, play basketball, pessimistically root for the Canucks, and read far too many comment sections. He graduated with distinction from SFU in 2012, with a bachelor's degree in music.


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