Sounds Like Braille
Right Out Of Left Field, Straight To The Middle Of Nowhere…
hither Post-Rock? When I was first became truly interested in music it was all the rage, all of them sounding like poor imitations of Slint or Mogwai sans dynamics, thrust or tunes. Then it all just faded away. I guess my tone is a pretty good indication of why I think the style didn’t stick around very long: it sucked. It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t impressive, to me it was like some strange mélange of the looseness of hippy jam bands with the boringly willful experimentation for experimentation’s sake that keeps a good ninety percent of the so-called avant-garde static and airless rather than, you know, avant-garde.
On their new album, Sounds Like Braille offer us over an hour of nigh-indistinguishable songs faithfully rendered in this style. Can you feel my joy? Not a single vocal blemishes the smooth surface of Right Out Of Left Field, Straight To The Middle Of Nowhere…, except for a single scream amid the pointless thrash of “Looking For Old Records”. I’m fine with instrumentals, but doing them right, especially over the length of an album, isn’t the easiest thing in the world. And if you don’t get it wrong, the results are roughly four times as boring as a song that has lyrics for the listener to focus on.
Sounds Like Braille is composed of talented musicians, and many of the tracks here can boast of interesting riffs or melodies. It’s just that when the odd interesting idea is all there is to sustain the listener over six or seven minutes (which is true for about half of the tracks here), things get old really quick.
That sort of monomaniacal focus can sometimes give good results; here it just blends into a grey haze. At its best, this all instrumental-approach can unify the project, lending it a grandeur that makes it impossible to view the record as anything other than a perfect whole.
Whatever good you want to say is in this album, though, there is no grandeur. The songs are alike, but they do not fit together into one glorious sound. Instead there is noodling or, more accurately, (on too-lengthy closer “The Christian From Vanderville”) the sound of a talented bunch of musicians chasing each other up their own asses. There are a bunch of songs, short or long, that I cannot tell apart without reference to the track number display and the back of the CD case.
So while Sounds Like Braille have potential, they have little else right now. They’ve got the chops to play what they want, but if they’re going to bother continuing, they need to figure out how to write compelling songs, Post-Rock or no, vocals or no. Noodling just isn’t doing it for them.
Reviewed by: Ian Mathers
Reviewed on: 2004-03-30