Absinthe Blind: Music for Security

Charlotte Robinson

Absinthe Blind

Music for Security

Label: Hammerhead
US Release Date: 2000-07-18

From the first notes of the instrumental opener "Small," Absinthe Blind assert that they are not your father's indie band. Despite the limited visibility afforded by their label, the band creates confident, grandiose music that seems destined for a larger audience. Like Radiohead, to whom they are often compared, Absinthe Blind layer sounds to create complex textures and moods. Because of the care and craft Absinthe Blind afford them, the tracks that comprise Music for Security often seem less like "songs" than "pieces" or "sketches," terms usually reserved for visual artists.

In many instances, the results are profoundly impressive. The lush "Small" begins with frantic drumming featured prominently in the mix and light strains of guitar and piano in the background. About one-and-a-half minutes into the track, just when the listener thinks he or she understands the structure of the song and where it is going, a horn section bursts in. It's too bad the song clocks in at just around two minutes, because it would have been fascinating to hear where the music might have gone next.

"Breathe the Screen" provides the first vocals heard on the album, and an argument for the Radiohead comparisons. Beginning with soft strains of guitar, the song morphs into a mid-tempo rocker when Adam Fein's voice enters. The chorus then erupts with Fein's emotional vocals and bursts of loud guitar, much like the technique used in Radiohead's first hit "Creep."

The listener can't predict where the songs might venture, which makes Music for Security engaging and highly listenable. However, it is not a completely rewarding experience. While some songs, like "Breathe the Screen," "Don't Lose the Image," and "Invisible One," are nearly perfect pieces of melodic pop, there are a few weak tracks. "Lifelike" incorporates a "Chopsticks"-like piano line, something that Liz Phair also unsuccessfully attempted. Newest member Erin Fein handles lead vocals, which might not be bad if her voice wasn't so muffled in the mix. The sloppiness of the production and performances on "Lifelike" make it seem like Absinthe Blind were playing around with sound textures in the studio, not trying to create a song.

A similarly sloppy feel pervades the instrumental "No Sound," which, unlike most other tracks, features no introduction. An acoustic guitar immediately plunges into a repetitive, sloppy tune. When the music abruptly ends, the musicians mumble to each other, making it seem that the song was merely a half-baked experiment launched in the studio.

It's unfortunate that a few of the lesser tunes weren't cut from the album, because they detract from the strong ones. With slightly better production choices, Absinthe Blind could have made a great album instead of one that simply shows promise.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.