Exhaust
Enregistreur
Constellation
2002
D

post rock lives and dies by its ability to engage the listener. If a record can entrance the listener, taking them out of their daily routine of listening to music as background fodder, then it has done its job. Post rock, in particular, must do this, as it has been frequently been accused of being boring and uninteresting more times than Tortoise is name checked in reviews mentioning the word post rock. Exhaust’s first release recently made me sit up and ask a friend what was playing on the turntables at a Chicago art opening. Exhaust’s newest release, however, has slowly filtered past my consciousness a number of times in my headphones without a passing thought.


The failure to engage the listener in an interesting and productive manner is the plague that eventually lowers this album to mediocre status. The bass anchors the opening three songs playing virtually the same line in each. The accompanying music changes slightly, but offers little of interest, eventually making way for disembodied voice experiments at the end of the third track. While the effect of the ultra low bass is an entrancing one, it soon becomes one that that is easily tuned out, especially because of the only slight variance from track to track. Aidan, of Godspeed You Black Emperor! percussion fame, adds his trademark downbeat drumming to the mix throughout the record. As usual the drumming is simplistic- the music calls for it- and adds little to the overall mix of the record besides a comfortable backdrop for the other musicians to lay their paint on the rhythmic canvas.


Due to the bass clarinet and ultra low see saw bass lines in the mix, the songs frequently take a paranoid, insular tone. Each of these songs, unfortunately, has this effect, however, exhibiting none of the emotional complexity of Godspeed You Black Emperor!, who admittedly only have two gears. Godspeed’s second gear, however, is a welcome change, compared to Exhaust’s one.


There are highlights, however. On “My Country Is Winter” two drum tracks emerge from the ubiquitous bass line, one of which sounds as though it comes from another room. The effect is interesting and piques interest, only to be taken away after a short time and replaced by more of the one dimensional song structures and production permeating the record. As a devotee of many of the acts on the Constellation label, it is disturbing to hear a record that, more than anything, bores me. Far from making me think about the elements that went into the record or transporting my thoughts to other things, Enregistreur does perhaps the worst thing of all to me. Nothing.


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