A collection of musical short stories combining acoustic guitar with electronic effects.
This Unique Museum is not a "museum" like the Louvre or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's the clever name for a musical act. "This Unique Museum" sounds like a band, but it's really musician Ben Fitton. The "unique" part of the name, however, is certainly accurate, as This Unique Museum's A Collection of Short Stories combines warm acoustic guitar strumming with an assortment of cool electronic effects. The resulting concoction is mellow and gentle mood music -- the audio equivalent of a caress on the cheek that downplays melody in favor of rhythm. Fitton's measured, whispery singing tips the "warm-acoustic versus cool electronic" balance toward "cool electronic", while tipping the "melody versus rhythm" balance toward "melody". Of the two, the melodic leanings of the vocals are most significant since the lyrics frequently blend with, and almost become indistinguishable from, the surrounding aural tapestry.
The novelty of Museum's formula, however, is undercut by its persistent employment. With 12 tracks spanning just over 53 minutes, length is the collection's major drawback. At half the tracks and half the length, This Unique Museum's ambience would be more potent, driving home pertinent doses of a thoughtful and somber elixir. As it stands, A Collection of Short Stories operates more like a novel with a repetitive storyline. There are exceptions. "An Idea of My Best Self (You're Beautiful)" and, as chance would have it, "Cut a Long Story Short (Don't Attempt to Call)" feature animated vocal performances and faster tempos. Still, the irony is that the songs built on the aforementioned template are the best, namely "Little One (In the Snow)", "Iris (The Best Part of the Year)", "A Winter to Forget (Something to Someone)", and the piano-driven "This Quiet Life (A Northern Light)". I also enjoyed "Isabella (A Place You Could Call Home)", which seemed like it would have been the perfect track to complement the cinematography and theme of the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004).