In this world where we’ve left our Joy Division albums behind, and have little to take their place, it’s good to hear Tarwater come groaning out of Germany. If Ian Curtis decided to go to Berlin instead of the Great Beyond and came back 18 years later with a mellower voice, a mellower mind, and an abstract electronica soundsystem, then this would be his album. Rollin Lippock has a smoky deep, speaking/singing voice that adds just enough flesh to the skeletons of synth, piano and drum loops. The singing is more up front on this album than on Silur or 11/6 12/10. In fact, there’s just more REAL songs here. Earlier albums focused on soundscapes, but here there is a nice progresion towards using the ambient sounds to craft cool three-minute tunes. A few instrumentals are dotted throughout such as “Babyuniverse” and “Somehere,” but it’s Lippock’s turn as the Teutonic Lou Reed on tracks such as “All of the Ants Left Paris” that are the highlights here. It’s not Top 40 stuff mind you, but they do enter strong Velvet Underground territory on “Noon.” A woman joins Lippock on the track’s vocals and adds some good counterpoint for a nice Lou/Nico vibe.
Tarwater is a fine duo that deserves to be heard more than they are now. But there aren’t any radio stations that will play a Tarwater single until it’s stuck in your head on a summer day, and that’s too bad. “Noon” would sound great on the radio too, especially crusing Main Street at midnight with the windows down.
Tarwater makes good gothic music for grown-ups that don’t listen to gothic music anymore. What can I tell you to make you buy this record though? If you’ve made it this far in the review, then I’m pretty sure you’d enjoy it if you took the chance.. But frankly if you don’t already own Heart of The Congos by The Congos or Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, you should go get those first. Revel in the beauty of those albums for a while and then when you think, “I need to hear something new,” then take a chance on Tarwater. If you already have this and the two earlier Tarwater records and want something similarly good, check out The Angels of Light, the new project by M. Gira of The Swans.
// Notes from the Road
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