My Education - "Moody Dipper"
(Thirty Ghosts Records 2006, TGR002)
From Aural Innovations #34 (August 2006)
My Education are an Austin, Texas based quintet whose music is comparable to some of the Montreal avant-rock scene bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but also drawing on, perhaps, some post rock influences like Tortoise...a spacious but energetic mix of melodic instrumental rock with classical and jazz influences. On Moody Dipper, they present three new tunes and four remixes by the likes of Dalek, Red Sparowes, Teith, and Kinski (the latter of which, I confess, is the only one I've heard of).
The new tracks are certainly no throwaways; in fact, they are the best part of the album. Spirit of Peace (which is subtitled A Variation on a Theme by Popul Vuh), finds the band at their most delicate, as a sad, lilting viola line weaves around and through gentle piano, with some nice spacey vibes adding texture. Some sighing slide guitar enters, heralding the dramatic arrival of the full band as they launch into a hypnotic, swirling mid-tempo jam. The playing is superb throughout.
The other two new pieces are just as good. Armistice Day is a brighter piece, with subtle piano and guitar melodies dancing amidst a rhythm section of bass, drums and viola. The title track is a slower piece, buoyed along by gently strummed acoustic guitars and melodic play from piano and a bristly electric guitar.
Admittedly, I haven't heard the original versions from which these tracks were re-mixed, so I can't tell you how much of these is the original My Education sound and how much is the remix. I found the remixes not fairing as well as the three new tracks. Dalek's remix of Green Arrow is much harsher than the sound of the non-remix tracks on this album, with repetitive, industrial style beats and rhythms. Red Sparowes' remix of Snake in the Grass is a noisy collage of varied elements, overlaid however with some nice, almost orchestral textures. Teith's remix of Green Arrow is like a shoegazer, noise pop piece with slow, clunking, hyper-processed rhythms. The Kinski remix of Puppy Love comes across sounding like a hybrid of the spacey cello musings from Tangerine Dream's Zeit and a free jazz improvisation!
Don't get me wrong, these remixes are all very interesting, and I enjoyed each one on it's own (or even as a group), but they seem very weirdly juxtaposed with the current directions of the band themselves, giving this album a sort of split personality feel. It might have worked better scattering the tracks in a less organized fashion, alternating from remix to new band track and back, instead of lumping them together in groups. So that's what I do. I hit the random function on my player and let it take me wherever it wants to with this album.
For more information you can visit the My Education web site at: http://www.myeducationmusic.com.
Visit the Thirty Ghosts Records web site at: http://www.thirtyghostsrecords.com.
Email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald