Broken Spindles – Inside/Absent (CD)

The mixture of heavy vocal presence (Joel Peterson of The Faint) with a very electronic, eighties-reminiscent arrangement makes tracks like “This Is An Introduction” into a sleeper dance hit. The cover of “Inside/Absent”, a continuation of Broken Spindles’ last album (self-titled) really is a perfect representation of the style of music that is dominant on the disc. The instrumentation is the reason for the angular landscape, but the very humane vocals of Joel delineate this blockiness into a distinct humanoid, tying together electronic structure (the blocky body) with an untamable soul (the round head).

Bringing back Taco’s version of “Puttin’ On The Ritz” for eir “Please Don’t Remember This”, the very deliberate beat to this track really screams Chromeo and Nine Inch Nails instead of Bright Eyes. In a sense, the vocals really look to Momus for their main influence, which means that this track is a pinnacle of oddity in a disc full of always-challenging tracks. Inserting instrumental tracks at opportunistic points on the disc, Broken Spindles really allow the more sedate sound of the instrumental to bolster the energy of the tracks that follow them (such as is the case with “Desaturated” and “Birthday”). In a sense, “Birthday” has some of the same Spartan sound and vocal harmonies as “People Are People-era” Depeche Mode, even if the instrumentation is darker (almost of a shade near that of the average horror movie score). Placing eirself right between nineties industrial and “Moonwalker”-age Michael Jackson for “The Distance in Nearsighted”, Joel really struggles with a speedy delivery.

This delivery, deadpan as all get out really does not elicit bizarre versions of harmonies as much as they do comparisons to Cake and Bloodhound Gang. The entirety of “Inside/Absent” finishes up well under thirty minutes, and even at this quick runtime there seems to be a certain weight given these compositions that delude listeners into thinking this album is much later. However Spartan these arrangements may be, the way in which they are constructed really give listeners much to chew on. “Anniversary” may just be the pinnacle of the disc, as ignorance of traditional time signatures allow the heavily-synthesized beat of the track to explore ground previously only broached by pioneers like Aphex Twin. The same deadpan vocals present on this track allow for a divided focus to dominate; listeners can take two completely different matters from this track. Chilling, with a brilliance throughout.

Top Tracks: Anniversary, Painted Boy Face

Rating: 7.1/10

Broken Spindles – Inside/Absent / 2005 Saddle Creek / 10 Tracks / http://www.saddle-creek.com/bands/brokenspindles / http://www.saddle-creek.com / Reviewed 24 October 2005

[JMcQ]

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