Music

Carla Bozulich Cranks It Down on 'Quieter'

Publicity photo via Bandcamp

In resting her ears, the ex-Geraldine Fibber Carla Bozulich explores strange new terrain on Quieter.

Quieter
Carla Bozulich

Constellation

11 May 2018

When an artist like Carla Bozulich names an album Quieter, you need to understand that it is, in fact, quieter in relation to much of what she's done before. All of that touring with the Geraldine Fibbers and Evangelista has done a number on her eardrums, sidelining her career for a time as she sought treatment for her tinnitus. Members of her devoted flock already know Bozulich to be well versed in the art of electronic music and sound manipulation, so her past blends of punk and country rock no longer need to be her default musical settings.

Quieter is an album pieced together from hard drive files, through numerous collaborations, and heavily doctored in the post-production stages. The resulting album sounds better than the description would lead you to believe, and it fares even better if you don't read about its background. Bozulich's explanations of the tunes are riddled with too many sentence fragments and not enough punctuation for me to tell just what the hell she's talking about.

Bozulich's army of musician friends includes cellists Jessica Catron and Francesco Guerri, drummer Andrea Belfi, programmers Jhno and Freddy Ruppert, guitarist Sara Lipstate, and each member of Ceramic Dog (guitarist Marc Ribot, bassist Shahzad Ismaily, and drummer Ches Smith). This is a strong batch of friends, and Bozulich wisely lets them do a great deal of the landscaping for Quieter. Though Carla Bozulich wrote lyrics to six of the album's seven songs and sings them with great affectation, it's the additional touches from her fellow musicians that give each track a unique boost. For instance, I'm inclined to let Lipstate take the credit for creating the hazy atmosphere than envelopes "Written in Smoke" while "Stained in Grace" wouldn't have sounded nearly as scary if it weren't for Jhno's string contributions.

"Glass House" owes more to Bozulich's simple yet insistent melody than it does to Ruppert's programming, but we're just splitting hairs at this point. Tracks like the ramshackle shuffle-turned sad lounge of "Sha Sha" still have a way of sticking in the listener's noggin, no matter who gets the lion's share of the credit. The eight-minute opener "Let It Roll" remains a mystery. Bozulich calls it "the most honest work I [sic] ever done" and "borderline dangerous to share", but this is just another one of those cases where only the poet knows the meaning of the poem. Combining electronics in a state of rubato with sparse piano, "Let It Roll" creates a thick, impenetrable ambiance as a backdrop for Bozulich's moderately processed voice. The song's meaning is lost in the murk, should that make its author breath any easier.

Final track "End of the World" was written entirely by Marc Ribot, providing Quieter with what has to be its most naked moment. With just Ribot's electric, Bozulich's voice, and some light reverb, neither musician can hide behind any digital fidgeting this time. The narrator greets a friend who has just returned home from a long journey, ostensibly to the end of the world: "I fed both your cats / And I watered your plant / Cleaned up broken glass while you were gone." It's a great end to a curious album that doesn't try so hard to stick to any ironclad mission statement of purpose. Carla Bozulich, of all people, understands that great things can still happen if you just sit back and let them.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors


David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.

Music

David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.

Music

Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".

Music

Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.

Music

The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.

Music

Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.

Film

NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.

Music

South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.

Music

Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Books

Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.

Music

Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.

Film

Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.

Music

Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.

Music

Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Music

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.