My Ion Truss
inus Story is a back-pocket band—the type of species you keep secret after seeing at an intimate, sparsely-attended showcase or finding their debut by mistake in the pre-blog era when such chance encounters were still personal and covert. The Captain is Dead, Let the Drum Corpse Dance was released in 2004 and back then the quiet implosion of Athens’ neo-psych collective, Elephant Six, was sending mild ripples through the rest of the country. Minus Story picked up the signal and began feeding their own version of multifarious bedroom pop through similarly strident and kaleidoscopic channels. That first album gave a small cluster of listeners the sense they’d stumbled upon Neutral Milk Hotel of the Great Plains. Instinct though, quickly put hyperbole at bay. It just wasn’t wild enough: as though the group preferred insularity to blossoming fantasy. No Rest for Ghosts followed, receiving equal whispers as they continued to exist in the indie subconscious with faint hopes they’d one day make their break-out masterpiece.
My Ion Truss refines their rural eccentricities and on-the-cheap baroque orchestration into an accomplished record—their sonic upgrade recalling The Soft Bulletin more than In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Like the Lips’ grand leap onto widescreen, Minus Story want to give a panoramic view of their microverse, but instead of an uplifting, bittersweet race for the prize, My Ion Truss is beautifully desolate and depressed, never lacking in faded melodic hues or haunting melancholy.
“Aaron” storms out of the bleak, bleary-eyed horizons that have defined their sound and presents Minus Story as ragged, classic-rock band—it’s a barreling tornado of scruffy riffs and thunderous percussion, somewhere between Crazy Horse and Elf Power’s devilish moments. An odd but welcomed entrance to an album that’s mostly tied to twinkling, pristine moonlight, rather than the usual dust-bowl sunbathing and primal spelunking. Unfortunate because the group’s choice to reveal their ferocious side only appears in feverish spells. There’s a hint in the junk-box beats and desert-doom revival of “Beast at My Side,” or the My Morning Jacket-esque sky jam that closes “Stitch Me Up.” For the most part My Ion Truss remains precious—even to a fault.
Minus Story has never been a band with teeth, it gums on experimentation, letting in layers of abject noise here and a distorted guitar line slip there. It’s been sweeping piano pop and ghostly atmosphere that have squeaked them through. With producer John Congleton on board, they’ve shaped these nearly milquetoast ballads into quadraphonic epics in miniature; “Battle of Our Lives” starts as bland as Coldplay, luckily singer Jordan Geiger (with a voice befitting James Mercer doing Jad Fair) leads the song through a series of tempo shifts and choral builds until its tragic mood becomes a rousing psychedelic miasma. Ultimately though, no matter how well exquisite suites such as “The Way Beyond,” and “Pretty in the Light” radiate on their own, My Ion Truss floats and ambles where it should be swimming and soaring.
Similar to traveling the roads that connect their home bases in Boonville, Missouri and Lawrence, Kansas, Minus Story create along a flat line; everything surrounding them is pastoral beauty as far as the eye can see, but rarely does a memorable landmark jut into the periphery. There’s nothing inherently wrong with My Ion Truss, you’re just not going to be opening any new worlds or wounds with this one.
Reviewed by: Kevin J. Elliott
Reviewed on: 2007-07-05