Stars as Eyes
Enemy of Fun
Tigerbeat6
2002
C+

the album starts with a tentative, yet metronomic beat. A simplistic bass tone underlies the proceedings as sonic elements begin to make their way forward through the mix. Numerous sounds begin to fight for position within the aural plane, as the beat plods- now trudging- onward. The song ends before you can comment on it- or think about it- a three minute appetizer to the rest of the album. And then a guitar loop that lasts for about a second- repeated for thirty- continually searching, prodding, asking the listener if they’re ready. We are. And in come the drums.


“Important Youth Movement” is the best song that Stars as Eyes has recorded in their short career. Composed in two distinct parts, the track incorporates a distortion heavy guitar based first half and a beautifully choral second half. The song, instead of ending, merely fades out, secure in the knowledge that there is no way to be ended properly- riding the groove out the door. The problem, of course, is that this is the second song on the album.


“The French Method” follows “IYM” up and does an admirable job in its wake. The song flows nicely on melancholic chords and some interesting surf guitar backgrounds. As hinted at in an interview with group member Steve Ferrari, the guitar does play a stronger force here, than in their previous outing, adding an interesting new texture to the mix. The brooding song’s mood is marred, however, by the manic percussion and squall of “Falling Picture”.


Despite the fact that the flow is disrupted, “Falling Picture” is another deceptively simple and driving piece of work. Sounding as though it was taken from an arcade racing game, the song is fast paced and repetitive, yet energetic and with enough changes to ultimately succeed.


From here the album begins to fall in quality, for a short stretch. “Vision Quest” sounds like a cross between the opener and “Falling Picture”, “I Thought You Said Something Else” is an interlude that should have been much longer, and “Suspension Days” is a throwaway track that focuses more on production than on songwriting.


In fact, the next true highlight of the album is the one-two punch of “Our Light” and “Where Do My Children Go At Night?” “Our Light” channels the work of Jonas Munk with Limp and his solo work as Manual. It’s probably the best song on the record after “IYM”, complete with horns, what sounds like a wind machine, and a transcendent drum track. The song fades smoothly into the ambience of the closer that reveals an ability to be vulnerable and simple- a nice respite from the over-produced nature of a lot of these tracks.


Overall, Enemy of Fun is a solid album- and a huge improvement from their debut album. It seems as though Stars as Eyes, though, is perhaps full of too many ideas to ever produce an album that is going to be considered an essential purchase. Instead, on each album thus far, we’ve had only a few tracks that are essential listens. While the ratio has gone significantly up, it will take a focusing of style- or a complete abandonment of all styles for this group to rise above the ever increasing glut of IDM releases and to create something transcendent. With this album under their belt, though, I’d say it’s entirely possible.


Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01
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