The Silent Ballet shameless plugs, Volume Four. The Scarecrow Frequency - Somber…

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19. Mai. 2008, 9:29

Here's my first review as a staff member of The Silent Ballet. Also, it's the first review I was almost fully satisfied with.

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Score: 5.5/10

and are genres that are known for the emotion they convey. While most of the material emanating from the former carries a positive, almost erotic feeling, the latter is often riddled with depression and isolation. The combination of such sensations creates a feeling that many long for – a bittersweet wistfulness; a calm, somehow comforting nostalgia. John Argetsinger, the artist behind The Scarecrow Frequency, describes this sensibility through his words, pictures, and music. Somber Atlantic, his first effort, is a journey within his state of mind.

Somber Atlantic is composed of 13 short tracks, and although there is no actual link between them, it is an album to be played as a whole, as the brevity of each song conflicts with the long lasting nature of the emotions Argetsinger channels through his music, which is largely reduced when played randomly. Probably being intentional, this isn't a fatal flaw. The instrumental approach is rather classic, and anyone used to this genre shouldn't be caught off guard by the usual guitar effects, live drumming, occasional sampling, and slow, mellow vocals.

The opener, "1963," is a soundtrack to the famous "I have a dream..." speech given by Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington. Sadly, it doesn't strike any chords; at best, it left me wondering why Argetsinger chose this sample, with it so far removed from the mood of the rest of the album. The instrumental track, on the other hand, gives good insight as to the content of the album. A simple theme is played by looped guitars on top of a quiet drumline, setting a tranquil atmosphere while discreet samples are adequately thrown in to reinforce the feeling of movement. The lo-fi influence of the band Duster is felt in Argetsinger's use of low guitar tones; he takes pride in that reverence, as he dedicates a track to them. His music is most efficient when sustained by his lingering vocals, making the few sung tracks the highlights of the record ("And I'll Sell All My Nightmares," "For Duster," and "Sage Brush").

Sometimes, simplicity can produce deeper results than the most complex, interminably thought out effort. It might all depend on the intention and the attitude of the artist toward his art. Argetsinger tries to define himself through his music, and his sincerity is the reason it is worthwhile. It makes a harder job of explaining why Somber Atlantic, when listened to in the right disposition, is such an enjoyable record. When you dissect it and analyze each of its components, there's nothing particularly original or noticeable to find, and yet it is the perfect background to get lost in your thoughts, to bring back pleasant memories, or to travel to.

But simplicity has its disadvantages. Argetsinger spends so much energy building an atmosphere around the listener, pushing him in a specific corner of his train of thoughts, that it puts his music in a dangerous place; if the listener is in the appropriate mindset, all goes as planned, but if he isn't, The Scarecrow Frequency loses most of its virtue.

The music put out by self-taught, experimenting artists is often a mirror to their own personality. With a barrier of technicity being brought down, the reflection is more raw, less subtle, and harder to grasp. In fact, the lack of musical complexity is the biggest downside of Somber Atlantic, and even though Argetsinger's creation isn't aimed towards this aspect, it somehow reduces its efficacy in the long run. Even with this aside, it is an emotionally powerful record that will get many spins on lonely nights and endless introspective instants. Unfortunately, once these moments go, The Scarecrow Frequency will most likely find its way back to your shelf.

Original Link: The Silent Ballet

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