Music

The Remote Viewer: Let Your Heart Draw a Line

Stefan Braidwood

You know that attic full of your childhood toys and dreams? This is the music of the spheres hidden in its dozing dust motes. Shine a light, and listen.


The Remote Viewer

Let Your Heart Draw a Line

Label: City Centre Offices
US Release Date: 2005-05-17
UK Release Date: 2005-04-25
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

There is music that grabs your attention by the roots of your hair; by electrifying your intellect, by insulting your soul or by shoving a whopper of an adrenaline-filled syringe into your rump. The Remote Viewer do not make music with this in mind. Rather, the German trio behind this record knit together little cosies of sound, quaint weavings of fragile comfort that fail to impinge with any great force upon the conscious eardrum. Instead, their compositions become most evident as they disintegrate into the air; their absence a stronger force than their presence, like the aura of a pale beam of sunshine that filled up the other end of the room before it was suddenly hidden by a cloud.

Those expecting the more weird, warped and recalcitrant end of City Centre Office's peculiar little sound realm --hip-hop hodgepodge for the heart, often with an ambient glow and sugar dustings of delightfully naive little melodies -- will be disappointed, although given the lighter-than-summer-breeze bleeping of the then-duo's last record, Here I Go Again On My Own, that's only to be expected. However, the first sound you hear on the album is a deep subdued bass tone, and if the sonic panorama is still minimal there is now something full-bodied to the piano, bass and guitar recordings as they trail through touches of percussion, glitchy drifts of dust, and little splurts of static that resolve into peaceful chatter before melting away . . . There's a mute strength implicit in the way the instruments have been recorded in microscopic warts'n'all clarity, as though one member of the group played as quietly and respectfully as they could whilst another held the microphone scarce millimeters away from the cradling, caressing fingers. Given the resultant richness of tone from each note played, the full frequency spectrum is covered and the tracks are resonant in their simplicity rather than sparse; bare strumming having replaced barely-there twinkling to a certain degree.

If this conjures up slow motion, minimum focus folktronica, then it should be added that a few of the tracks now feature singing, one by the mademoiselle alone, several by the guys, and a couple in concert. Well, perhaps singing is exaggerating slightly; whispering and murmuring (for the most part) indistinctly is more accurate, although this does mark a step in the direction implied by such touchingly able "song" titles as "Last Night You Said Goodbye, Now It Seems Years", the slightly more aggressively morose "The Fucking Bleeding Hearts Brigade" and the wistful "It's So Funny How We Don't Talk Anymore". The latter takes a plaintively naive piano motif that falters along like an uncertain kitten, interweaves it with an immense soft comforter of a bassline and then employs an artfully vocodered vocal like a melancholy feather duster, stroking the edges into a pretty blur. You could probably capture the track as notation in about twenty notes, yet as music the whole possesses a breathtaking poignancy that impacts on the nostalgia glands with the patina of a long-thought-lost photo album, but with the force of a body blow. Attempting to capture the effect in words renders me as helpless as the track itself; suffice to say the only way you'd get my fingers to turn it off or down would be by removing my hand for your own foul purposes, Demolition Man-stylee.

That's the high point of an album that features "I'm Sad Feeling!" and ends on "How Did You Both Look Me In The Eye?" but is actually far too subdued to live up to its own excitable punctuation, never mind my occasionally unpleasantly graphic imagination. Too withdrawn and patient for the mainstream our trio might be, and effervescently brilliant they will probably never become, but this is an intimate and mature record that presents its bittersweet vulnerability with increasing confidence.

6

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

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

rating-image