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Monday, August 17, 2009

Joan of Arc - The Gap

Name: Joan of Arc
Album: The Gap
Year: 2000
Style: Electronic, Ambient, Folk
Similar Bands: Neil Halsted, Wilco
"One-Word" Review: Jarringly-mashed-up-folk-song-ideas
Based Out Of: Chicago, IL
Label: Jade Tree
The Gap - Cover and Insert Covers
The Gap - Back & Lyrics
The Gap - Record

The Gap (2000)
  1. (You)[I] Can Not See (You)[Me] As (I)[You]Can 3:19
  2. As Black Pants Make Cats Hair Appear 7:48
  3. Knife Fights Every Night 5:07
  4. John Cassavetes, Assata Shakur and Guy Debord Walk Into A Bar... 0:54
  5. Another Brick in the Gap, Pt. 2 2:57 /
  6. Zelda 1:56
  7. Pleasure Isn't Simple 3:18
  8. Me & America (or) United Colors of the Gap 5:18
  9. Your Impersonation This Morning of Me Last Night 9:11\
  10. Outside the Gap 2:45
Album Rating (1-10): 4.0
Members & Other Bands:
Tim Kinsella - (Cap'n Jazz, Owls, The Sky Corvair, Friend/Enemy, Everyoned, Make Believe)
Mike Kinsella - (Cap'n Jazz, Owls)
Todd Mattei - Photography (Friend/Enemy)
Jeremy Boyle - Keys (Cap'n Jazz)
Matt Clark
Elliot Dicks - Engineer
Alan Douches - Mastering
Rebecca Gates - Vocals (Spinanes)
Ryan Hembrey - Bass, Vox
Jeremy Lemos -Recording
Damon Locks - Vox
Casey Rice - Producer
Sheik LaBod - Additional Recording
Tania Bowers - Vox
Julie Pommeleau - Vox
Paul Koob - Art Direction & Design

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of these guys. Well, that’s not completely true. Since I began to research these guys, I came across a promo photo that I distinctly remembered and was interested in a few years back when I’d check out the local concert listings. So I have been familiar with them without really knowing who they were. This was a record that I got from a friend who moved to Chicago (ironically) and she gave this to me since she did not like it too much. I really do not know what to expect on this, except, from the minimal and busy artwork, perhaps some experimental and ambient noise mixed with standard indie fair.

Album Review: “You)[I] Can Not See (You)[Me] As (I)[You]Can” is a slow moving acoustic with echo lullaby. It reminds me of a Jeff Buckley sketch mixed with some James – Laid material. It has the liquid echo and light mid range vocals. But it is ultra simple. The vocals and music cut in and out at random points, and it is so random that I am not entirely sure that this is how the song sounds or if it is my recording of the record. The end increases in energy as a wall of sound builds until the song cuts out and makes way for the next track.
“As Black Pants Make Cats Hair Appear” is a tune up session of random little melodies played on the guitars and random drum fills. It feels like experimental Jazz with out any boundaries. The percussion includes a clanging of what sounds like glass bottles and metallic chains. Around 1:20 the music picks a melody and the drums support it and for another minute a tangible song evolves. But the percussion goes on its own for a few bars until it returns for the melodic chorus. It is repetitive but catchy. At different points a chorus of vocals or a wispy female voice overlaps the nasally lead vocals. There is a slow breakdown as the instruments, aside from the melody holding “dream guitar,” all decide to evolve in their own distinct directions. The instruments withdraw slowly, and a synthetic robotic chirp is added as the song repeats its chorus toward the sudden ending.
“Knife Fights Every Night” begins with a short section of melodic piano and strings, but if only this melody were maintained, I might be able to follow it much better. But the annoying tempo changes and instrument breaks make it hard to get a grasp on this song as anything more than an art form. A bass line echoes down the scale from high to low pitch until it distorts out of the song. Like a whale swimming by a submarine and or if a star’s Doppler shift would be audible. The vocals feel inconsequential, as just part of the music’s landscape, rather than being anything catchy to guide the song along.
“John Cassavetes, Assata Shakur and Guy Debord Walk Into A Bar...” is just a repetitive bass line with odd string picking sounds and slow rhythmic trash can percussion. Randomly picked guitars also become involves with the song, but they quickly end, leaving a repetitive siren like “spinning top” of a noise to finish out the track, which I think is actually “Another Brick in the Gap, Pt. 2” and I just cut it off before the entire track played out.

“Zelda” begins side 2 with what feels like a bunch of song ideas tied together with a lovely guitar. The drums are crashing and beating out of whack with the rest of the song, and it feels like two ideas were laid over to make one track, sometimes it matches nicely, sometimes one music pulls attention away from the rest of the song in a jarring way. The song transitions into “Pleasure Isn't Simple” and it feels like it is basically the same song.
“Me & America (or) United Colors of the Gap” starts off from the start sounding like a song, at least more so than the rest of the songs. The vocals are assured and have a distinct melody, and the music, drums included adapt the song pleasurably, rather than detracting. The bass line is a little off, but it plays out interestingly, and not detrimentally. The music cohesively takes over, and the string section flows in a fun fashion over the bass and depressed guitars. The drums are smooth and rhythmic in their play.
“Your Impersonation This Morning of Me Last Night” is again, a light acoustic guitar inspired song. As I feel I have to compare the music to being song-like or not, this is definitely more like the delicate intro to a moody, romantic folk ballad. The drums are mixed far down in the background and barely come out except the quick rat-a-tat fills and cymbals. About 2:30 in, the first vocals surface. Quiet, hushed monotone words pick up unusual melodies out of the backing music. The vocals begin to repeat, and sound like mentally ill ramblings, repeated over and over accompanied by a rocking motion for comfort. The vocals fade out in an echoy shuddering whirlpool of synth fuzz. The acoustic guitar continues to jangle out the rest of the song with the familiar melody it’s played for the entire 9 minute song.
“Outside the Gap” begins as soon as the guitar ends, with a phantom echoing bells and haunting, quiet buzzing and cymbals reverberating across the soundscape. There is no real melody here, just ambient ringing and a short set of vocals melodically talking over the end of the song, as if reading the album in epitaph.

Stand Out Track: Me & America (or) United Colors of the Gap

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  1. I just wanted to add a comment here to mention thanks for you very nice ideas. Blogs are troublesome to run and time consuming thus I appreciate when I see well written material. Your time isn’t going to waste with your posts. Thanks so much and stick with it No doubt you will definitely reach your goals! have a great day!

    1. Thank you for the nice words! As I don't completely agree that the post are well written (I write them live as I listen, and I don't usually re-read/edit my posts...it would take a lot more energy to clean them up & I kind of like the idea that the posts come out organically), I do agree with and thank you for the kind affirming words and support! As blogs do begin to feel more like work, and less like fun, it is important to review the whys of blogging, and what "your" goals are. For me, there is no deadline here, no threat of making ends meet with this journalism: it is all about the discovery of new music, and cataloguing it for myself, and those who fine interest in this idea. Some day it could lead to more, but for now, it is just for fun.