Pretty much everything that Andy Cabic and Devendra Banhart get their hands into is going to have some larger implications for the music world. If it is not Vetiver or Devendra’s solo music, it is Jana Hunter. Where individuals throw fits about the fright that artists like Marilyn Mason and Alice Cooper instill in youth, my vote would have to with Jana Hunter’s music on “Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom”. There is little in the way of instrumentation during tracks like “”The New Sane Scramble”. Essentially, the only instrumentation that one can find comes in the quite-often repetition of a simplistic set of guitar chords and the hauntingly brilliant vocals of Hunter on the track.
With these few pieces of instrumentation (a set of strings is also thrown into the mix at a certain point), a sense of fear and dread is cultivated in the heart of every listener. This is not fright rock, but does contain an atmosphere that is disconcerting to say the least. Furthermore, later tracks like “The Earth Has No Skin” does nothing to change this tempo, but actually exacerbates it throw the creation of an off-key choir that speaks to the darker parts of the old “good days” of society. Hidden in these seemingly-innocuous voices lies a world of deceit and romantic trysts; the world is not as it should be, despite the outwardly rose tone of the vocals.
An individual may not need the cutting-edge sound system to hear everything that Hunter commits to disc, but the utmost attention is need to not miss the subtext running throughout this album. None of these tracks will ever be on the rotation of a commercial radio station, and for good reason; to remove one of the tracks from “Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom” would be to bastardize the context in which all songs on the disc reside. However petty a track like “Laughing & Crying” is in terms of track length and what would typically be expected of it in traditional music, it is a vital organ to the corpus that is this album. The smartness of Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom is that Hunter does not add anything more to the tracks than what is absolutely essential; this is reflected in the sub 2:30 runtime of nearly half of the disc. Emotionally involved while beyond musically vacant, Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom may be the best thing yet to be affiliated by the Vetiver/Banhart camp.
Top Tracks: Have You Got My Money, The Earth Has No Skin
Jana Hunter – Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom / 2005 Gnomonsong / 13 Tracks / http://www.myspace.com/janahunter / http://www.midheaven.com/labels/gnomonsong.html / Reviewed 27 December 2005