Blusom
Go Slowly All The Way Round the Outside
2003
B-



of the daydream, Freud once wrote that it “creates for itself a situation which is to emerge in the future, representing fulfillment of the wish. . .which now carries in it traces both of the occasion which engendered it and of some past memory.” All apologies for starting with a Freudian quotation aside, Blusom’s debut album, Go Slowly All the Way Round the Outside, seems to pulsate with just this sort of transfixed remembrance of the past in the present. Their filtering of long standing sentiments through the metallic effects of the moment enlivens what would otherwise be simply a nostalgic treatment of classic country and folk music.

Much like the Fruit Bats and Holopaw, Colorodo-based duo Blusom, consisting of vocalist/songwriter Mike Behrenhausen and electronics specialist Jme, infuse fresh vitality into traditional Americana by layering it with the rush and crackle of studio trickery. The chunky beats or midnight-oil electronics seem to settle onto the front porch with the straw-dry strum of acoustic guitars like they’ve been just slow country stroll apart this entire time. Their commitment to this combination is full-blooded and composed, without the hesitant transformations of a band like Ill Lit. The resulting album bears the honest elegy of a country choir that’s learned to soak their hymns in the shuffling currents of modernity. There’s no reason to gaze back at the moment of conception; Blusom has fulfilled our wishes with this one.

“On Glass” is the ideal starting point for the album, and one of its best songs. Underneath squiggling electronics and the album’s most high-charged beat, Behrenhausen’s delicate voice shimmers with the aluminum-reflected heat of a summer day. Its woozy drones leave you feeling victimized by sunstroke, and as it fades out into a choked-up guitar part that reminds of Califone, the album’s dizzy desert tone leaves a burn.

Starting with the sound of water sloshed about in a thick tube, “Iceland of Greeland?” is a solemn lament deadened with the notion of winter’s ceaseless darkness. A slowly picked guitar accompanies its alien synth tones to form a campfire dirge that, on its own, is worth the price of admission.

Added to these song-based tracks are a series of expertly placed instrumentals. They provide gaps to exhale some of the exhaust from its largely brooding tone, which if left without these intermissions, may have been too weighty to consume en masse. “Fireside Iconoclasm”’s scratching sounds and aerial drones lift the album from the similar sorrows of “X-Photo” and the forementioned “Iceland of Greenland?” The twinkling chimes of “Kitelike Blue Paper” help to still the sweltering claustrophobia left from the brilliant “Versus Techno.” Yet, these instrumentals never feel like side-show distractions, and their presence establishes Blusom as musicians capable of making a singularly magnetic album that swells forward with a mature and effortless grace.

Never losing its momentum, GSATWRTO is ultimately a work bound to the strength of its entirety. There’s a lot of weight to be carried at times, and the fact that its breezier moments never pacify but rather embolden its picket-fence jeremiads testifies to what a remarkable play the album is from start to finish. Full of meadow-bedded reverie and stanzas of stiffening chill, this is a daydream I’d settle in for anytime, as long as I was allowed to see it to its end.


Reviewed by: Derek Miller
Reviewed on: 2004-03-17
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