There’s a cable TV show called This Small Space, where interior decorators take little spaces in rooms and apartments and decorate them. For some reason that show came to mind while listening to Faultline’s debut CD Closer Colder. Faultline mainman David Kosten takes small spaces of silence and decorates them with sound, adding a bassline here, a stately, Miles Davis-like trumpet there, an electronic pulse in the background somewhere. It’s a sound that seems minimalist at first but becomes fuller, yet still retains a sense of intimacy, like all these sounds and instruments are right here around you; it has the cinematic qualities of dub reggae, if no other musical similarities.
Each track on Closer Colder uses sparse electronic beats, a variety of instruments (guitar, bass, horns, strings), and some random noises and voices to create a sound that is alternately comfortable and disorienting. It’s like he’s taking a blank space and slowly filling it, yet the purpose isn’t always comfort and beauty. As the title indicates, on this album, the closer you get, the colder things often are. Every time that a pretty mood is set, which is often, something jarring happens, like a raging guitar juts in or an incessantly buzzing ringing overtakes everything.
The epitome of this is the final track, “Honey Partyline”. It’s the one track filled with vocals, and the one that at first seems like it could be remixed into a dance-club hit. Actually, using this track in dance clubs would be both bizarre and appropriate, for it’s all about the awkwardness, loneliness and miscommunication going on behind the veneer of sex and desire. The track’s main vocal line is supposed excerpts of a phone-sex partyline. The people are mouthing the standard explicit sex-talk, but, not only do they sound cold and monotonous, almost like they’re reading from a textbook, but they also are continually confused. A man keeps repeating “Hello?”, desperate for someone to answer. Voices call others by the wrong names, and are constantly trying to figure out who is who. And the whole time they’re supported in the background by a voice methodically counting.
To me, this CD has a similar effect as the current film Requiem for a Dream, though not quite as extreme. Both bring you in for a close look at the harsh side of life, but do it through up-to-date artistic methods and with passages of absolute beauty. In the world of Closer Colder, you enter a world where every time things seem to be going perfectly, something breaks in to disturb the order. Beneath order is chaos, beneath beauty is the ugly, beneath warmth is the bitter cold.