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Lonely Space Age
A record which, overall, is something of a skewed treat
Paul Nolan, 30 Jun 2003
Since the taxonomic arbiters of the alt.rock idiom (read: Wire magazine) have long since ensured that the phrase “post rock” has become a major feature of the music journo vocabulary, now seems as good a time as any to re-evaluate what it is this accursed phrase actually seeks to define.
Certainly, there exists a sizeable sub-section of groups who fall broadly under the movement’s auspices – Labradford, DNTel, even Yo La Tengo – who specialise in a hypnotic, frequently sublime brand of dream-time ambience, the kind of somnambulant grooves which make most sense at that feverish interstice when the night before bleeds into the morning after.
The flipside to all this ethereal nocturama exists in the form of the headwrecking cavalry, the Mogwais and Godspeeds, those groups who listened to Slint and heard simply a rock ‘n’roll band – albeit one with pronounced eccentricities – and primed their guitar pedals accordingly.
So, given that there exists such disparity in style between the genre’s leading lights, how can a satisfactory definition be reached? The simple answer is that it can’t. But I’d venture that veteran Dublin oufit The Pale have more succour with the former approach, and similarly understand electro experimentation and avant-garde composition in the way that a group like, say, Boards Of Canada do – namely as a means to express an especially reflective, plaintive – though ultimately optimistic – state of mind.
Although Lonely Space Age doesn’t quite match the unspeakable magnificence of prime-time BOC (think the stratospheric likes ‘Kid For Today’ or ‘You Could Feel The Sky’), it nonetheless offers a compelling take on the ambient aesthetic. Melancholy, acoustic-electro gems like ‘Kid’ and ‘6 lbs 7 ozs’ (oddly reminiscent of criminally over-looked, Britpop era synth-eccentrics Dubstar) drift from the speakers with an almost elegiac sadness.
And if certain tunes here wear those Kraftwerk influences a little too openly (‘The Moon, It Isn’t Really Lying In The Gutter’ or ‘Morning Star Avenue’ spring to mind), such lapses are eminently forgivable in the context of a record which, overall, is something of a skewed treat.