Belong - October Language
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October Language

It will probably be mentioned in just about every review that you read of this album, but October Language was recorded by a duo from New Orleans and sadly may be one of the only (if not the only) release from there that you hear this year. Calling to mind the work of fuzzed-out ambient artists like Fennesz and Tim Hecker, Belong create music that sounds like the aural equivalent of the sepia-toned, decaying photo that haunts the cover of their album.

Source material for most of the tracks probably started out as guitars in most places, but has been filtered and pushed so far along that it now sounds like sand-blasted electronic particles oozing out of the speakers and trying to fill in every small niche and crack that they can find. It's hardly ever harsh, although if you listen at loud enough volumes it could probably rival Loveless as a swirling cloud of sound. Any atmospheric adjectives you can throw at Belong stick pretty well, as the group moves through eight songs and over forty-five minutes without ever coming close to dropping a beat. "I Never Lose. Never Really" opens the disc with super-heavy washes of granulated sound while steady bassline pads mark out a steady progression and "Red Velvet Or Nothing" again finds hazy glints of guitars swirling and flowing over low end warbles that do little more than add another unstable quality to the slowly-shifting mass.

In places, the groups reference points seem almost a little too clear, as on the album-titled "October Language." I realize that in an age where electronic musicians use overlapping software and sound sources, there will be some similarities, but the aforementioned track sounds very similar to Fennesz's "Circassian" from his Venice album. As might be expected from reading the above, this is definitely a headphone or at the very least a louder-volume stereo experience. Many tracks (such as the subtle "Remove The Inside") have micro-elements that only seem to really bleed through on a decent set of speakers or headphones that allow for deeper listening.

The weak point of the album comes in the lack of variety, which is something that seems to haunt lots of releases of this nature. Sure, nobody seemed to complain too much about William Basinski's endless loops, but the biggest problem with October Language is that unless you haven't been following electronic music over the course of the past five years or so, you'll have heard the techniques that the group uses on this album in more than one place (namely through many of the artists mentioned above). Even Fennesz has wisely varied his style more and more on recent releases, including a few steps away from sheer filter overload, which is basically what you get here. Granted, there are some powerful moments of beautiful sound and a sound document to what was once a vibrant city, but a little more variety could have worked wonders.

rating: 6.2510
Aaron Coleman 2006-02-09 21:27:39