I’ll be the first to admit that I’m sort of a ninny when it comes to instrumental music. No matter how cool it is, to me it always sounds as if I could have ordered from the Windham Hill catalog. Translation: it takes a lot for me to feel like instrumental music should be what it is, and isn’t something without.
So with the likes of Couch, I kept getting inklings that it’s more like a funkdafied prog rock/new wave album with deleted vocals than anything that was intentionally built upon the appeal of the song without words. Part background to acoustic Stereolab, part keyboard demo gone awry, the first North American release from Munich band Couch runs amok with driving beats and timid keyboards, and doesn’t run into anything that’s particularly moving or sonically rich.
That’s not to say that the album isn’t interesting, even sort of pleasant in it’s quirky musical asides and colorful melodies. The album’s second track, “Slogan”, has a ferocity, staged by its demanding guitar riff that drills into your brain before opening into a sunny, distorted cacophony of keyboards, base and drums. Those moments of glory and energy that literally sing are what makes the album’s epileptica repetition worthwhile. And consequently, as I was doing this review, my Couch album was skipping for about 10 seconds before I really noticed. By the time I did, I sorta liked the noises my stereo was making—digitized, like machines falling apart, like effervescence.
But I’ll venture to say that this album could have been a lot more neat-o. To have a title called “Fantasy” to me means to use sounds that are out of this world—and what I get is a lot of peculiar noises rendered impotent, and wacky themes stifled by too much redundancy. Even the songs themselves mimic each other in order and approach, and few really break into sounds and visions that have any glimmer of innovative hope. By mid-album, you feel like you’ve heard it all before, and you have—bar after bar, note after note.