The Dead Texan The Dead Texan

[Kranky; 2004]

Rating: 4/5

Styles:  ambient
Others: Eluvium, Aix Em Klemm, Philip Glass

A tough release to review, this is. Much like Stars of the Lid's (of which Dead Texan's Adam Wiltzie is a member) The Tired Sounds of…, this is quite possibly the best music available for slowly drifting into dreamland. But unlike that record, The Dead Texan seamlessly melds more song-oriented moments into the drifting mix. But you could blink (and bear in mind that this would be a slow motion, ambient music blink) and miss these melodies fairly easily. Another problem that arises is the fact that Kranky's promo package neglects to include the companion seven video DVD, which their press blurb suggests were an integral part in Wiltzie's compositions. I wish I could give you a better idea of what to expect with the videos, but, like me, you'll have to settle (until you pick up the release that is) for the "Aegina Airlines" video up on Dead Texan's website.

So since I cannot truly comment on the collaborative flow between video artist Christina Vantzos and Wiltzie's work, I'll focus on the ever-evasive moments of lucidity. The first appears with "Glen's Goo," starting with wafting strings and ushering in a moody, but effectively anchoring keyboard figure. A touchingly wounded, Ry Cooder-esque guitar part comes in before the track is further fleshed out with a vocal part reminiscent of Labradford, only with female accompaniment. This ends the song giving the track that evasive, elliptical quality in keeping with the rest of the LP.

These are non-songs that, at times, allow in snatches of melodic structure and drive only as another incidental. They revel in the drift, something that happens in David Lynch films like Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway, where the cinematic moment leads you on a leisurely chase through hypnotic, obscuring details. You could call this album placid and even dull. It's not going to blow anybody away. But it's one of those releases that, if you catch it in the right mood, can be serenely transporting. And I'm not beyond saying one couldn't use it at their place of business (preferably a browsery of some kind) for some relaxing atmosphere. It's not new age music -- it's got too much character to fall into that highly prescribed category -- but it can play that role should you be interested in a left-of-field holiday gift for an older relative. Equal parts intrigue and sedative, The Dead Texan is an elegantly hypnotic CD that manages to freeze time in addition to passing it.

1. The Six Million Dollar Sandwich
2. Glen's Goo
3. A Chronicle of Early Failures - Part 1
4. A Chronicle of Early Failures - Part 2
5. Taco de Macque
6. Aegina Airlines
7. When I See Scissors I Can't Help But Think of You
8. Girth Rides a (Horse) +
9. La Ballade de Alain Georges
10. Beatrice Part 2
11. The Struggle