Silent Movie is mood music in the best and worst ways. The producer duo of Matt Edwards and Joel Martin, who together have considerable experience in dark house music and library recordings, envision a Balearic summer soundtrack with their first album as Quiet Village. Silent Movie has somewhat surprisingly garnered a heavy buzz from the music blogosphere, with a handful of proponents doing their best to convince themselves that it’s the Avalanches long-awaited second album. But after several listens, it’s clear that this pastiche of Italian disco, cheesy, sedated lounge, and slow soul has very little in common with Since I Left You and worse doesn’t have the legs to last more than a couple spins. It’s a lethargic soundtrack without film stills and unfortunately an album that lacks the spark or identity to distance itself from the schmaltzy source material it cites.
“Victoria’s Secret” opens with seagulls and crashing waves. Its beautiful, orchestral outset wades at the same pace as the swishing water but never quite captures seaside bliss as well as, say Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross”. “Circus of Horror” is the only song on the album that picks up speed, yet it remains a frustrating single loop that essentially burns hot air without taking off. Sure it would work perfectly in a Tarantino segment, but only because it would last for 20 seconds.
The obvious goal in using a patchwork of disparate sources is to create something that sounds above the sum of its parts. But instead of mixing tempos and disassembling songs for minute details, Silent Movie is resigned to letting whole segments stretch on for minutes. Its lull pace and subtle to minimal alterations of source material fail to distinguish the album as a greater product. On “Utopia”, Martin and Edwards only barely tweak the pedal harp of Swiss musician Andreas Vollenweider. And “Pacific Rhythm” takes the outlandish in Sister Sledge’s “You’re a Friend to Me” and pushes the beach-reggae vibe a little bit further. This is an album that’s missing something—a voice, an accompanying image, a tempo change. Maybe all of the above.