Belong Colorloss Record [EP]

[St. Ives; 2008]

Styles: ambient, electronic
Others: William Basinski, Fennesz, Tim Hecker

The cover record is becoming nearly mandatory for ambient electronic artists these days. Christian Fennesz broke new ground when he crushed The Rolling Stones classic “Paint It Black” and The Beach Boys’ “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)” into a thousand pieces on his Plays EP. It provided a glimpse into his unique vision of what pop music could be, while foreshadowing what was to come on his 2001 masterpiece, Endless Summer. A few years later, Tim Hecker took his noisy electronic gestures into the seemingly incompatible world of classic rock/pop-metal with My Love Is Rotten to the Core, a record on which he spliced samples of Van Halen riffs into a wash of white noise. The results were always engaging even when they weren’t fruitful.

Add New Orleans ambient duo Belong to that list of electronic artists with cover albums. Colorloss Record is Turk Dietrich and Michael Jones’ attempt to take a handful of psychedelic gems -- Syd Barrett’s “Late Night,” Tintern Abbey’s “Beeside,” Billy Nicholls’ “Girl From New York,” and July’s “My Clown” -- and deconstruct them to the point of being unrecognizable. The big difference is that, unlike Fennesz or Hecker, Belong added their own vocals to the covers. Not that it really adds or subtracts from the overall experience; the vocals are buried so far down in the mix that they’re nearly indistinguishable from the collapsed, star-fuzz drone.

The overall effect here is one of aching beauty, even if, like me, you feel like you’ve seen this trick done before. Much like William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops, the music on Colorloss Record feels like it’s continually in a state of flux. Some melodies bubble up from underneath a layer of warped, swooning guitar and synth, while others slip away just as you begin to get a grasp on them. It could be a little monotonous if not for its brevity, which is a saving grace for this vinyl and download-only EP, since it lacks the tunefulness of Belong’s last full-length, October Language. This is still a really good EP and a great jumping-off point for whatever they’ve got coming our way on their next long-player, due out later this year.

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