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

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.






The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.


John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.


Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.


Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.


Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.


Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.


Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.


Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.


Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".


The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.


The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.


Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.


​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.


John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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