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What God Doesn't Bless, You Won't Love; What You Don't Love, The Child Won't Know

(Hometapes; US: 14 Nov 2006; UK: 4 Dec 2006)

In the great show Mystery Science Theater 3000, host Joel has a Wall of Keyboard out, and tells crow to hold down a single note.  “OK, hold it… keep holding… and now hold it down until you get a record contract from Windam Hill.”  This a great summary of what most Americans think when they hear the word “ambient.”

Yet some artists are quite defiant at the title, as a great ambient album is a true art.  The great band 3/4hadbeeneliminated nearly mastered it on their 2005 effort a year of the aural gauge operation, and now, four years after his debut, Connor Bell of Shedding (formerly Now I’m Shedding) returns with the elaborately titled What God Doesn’t Bless, You Won’t Love; What You Don’t Love, the Child Won’t Know.  Unfortunately, by ambient standards, the meticulous work doesn’t pay off as it has in the past.  The album’s three tracks clock in at 39 minutes, and you feel every single one of them.  Opener “GB” sounds like a horror-movie foley artist getting ready for a tense scene that has no climax.  The closing “Ydk” is a strange, random meandering of sounds that live up to Bell’s plotted bird-chirp concept, but little else.  Only “W”, with its meaningfull drum and bass work that appears for over half of the track’s 14 minutes, manages to have any sense of arc or propulsion, making it a unique experience, but the only notable one on this otherwise-confused ambient release.  Much note should be given, however, for the compelling, mysterious and beautiful artwork by Kathleen Lolley which graces the CD—it has more to say than the album contained within.


Evan Sawdey started contributing to PopMatters in late 2005, and has also had his work featured in publications such as SLUG Magazine, The Metro (U.K.), Soundvenue Magazine (Denmark), the Daily Dot, and many more. Evan has been a guest on HuffPost Live, RevotTV's "Revolt Live!", and WNYC's Soundcheck (an NPR affiliate), was the Executive Producer for the Good With Words: A Tribute to Benjamin Durdle album, and wrote the liner notes for the 2011 re-release of Andre Cymone's hit 1985 album A.C. (Big Break Records), the 2012 re-release of 'Til Tuesday's 1985 debut Voices Carry (Hot Shot Records), and many others. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. You can follow him @SawdEye should you be so inclined.

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