Pumice

Quo

by Nate Dorr

3 September 2008

 

Projects like Pumice have a way of making the reviewer obsolete. The qualities that make lo-fi noise-folk like “Pebbles” or “Sick Bay Duvet” so compelling are both nearly impossible to describe and immediately evident to any listener without any need for a closer look at composition structure and arrangement. But they are compelling, with a simple grace that transcends the bleary, distorted guitar strums that make them up, with or without the embellishments of broken electronics or distantly verbed voice. It’s classic bedroom music territory: charmingly poor recording quality (entirely intentional after 18 years of refinement), multitracked by one committed musician (New Zealand’s Stefan Geoffrey Neville), blending spontaneity and close attention to detail (closer “Beak Remedy”, which warbles easily through a flexibly varying seven minutes, but the backing selection of snicks and whickers speak of careful sound design at some point in the process). All of that gives you a picture, but still one incapable of revealing the spark that illuminates all of Pumice’s work, present here in varying degrees, but imbuing even the least of these pieces with a subdued magic.

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