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Adam Wiltzie's "The Dead Texan" side project is easily the most listenable of the Stars of the Lid canon. Not that it diluted the purity of their ambient sound-shaping, it just added more drama and dynamics. It keeps the Lid's oozy string textures, but with their harmonies and pace subtly tweaked for cinematic effect. Though its main claim to accessibility is those tunes in the spotlight. Played on sounds chosen with perfectionism, liquidly smooth guitar ("Glen's Goo") to warmly-effected piano ("Taco de Macque", "Aegina Airlines"), these little fragments repeat minimalistically with more than a hint of Satie. Or when the tunes escape into dramatic flights of fancy, of Michael Nyman ("When I See Scissors"). Angelo Badalementi's shivery, spacious soundtrack for David Lynch's TV series "Twin Peaks" is another influence, especially on the twangy "Beatrice part 2".
But not only are there tunes, there are a handful of songs, which mingle a feathery shoegaze style into their sound. The gossamer guitar strumming and delicious decaying silences on "A Chronicle of Early Failures" wouldn't sound out of place on Slowdive's "Pygmalion" (a proper Slowdive post to come soon). After some dainty Rhodes and bass pootling on "The Struggle" it ends the album in a tiny sung section. Not sure if anyone else will hear this, but it evokes to me a bizarre transformation of The Polyphonic Spree's gormless happy-clappy "hey now it's the sun!" chorus into a fragile acoustic style. Quite individual, imaginative ambient music. [Note this is officially a collaboration with video artist Christina Vantzou, and comes with an accompanying DVD, which I haven't seen, to my shame - this review is based on the digital audio release.]
September 28, 2008