Blank Dogs – Under and Under

dogsRating: ★★★☆☆

Currently, the music scene is filled with waves upon waves of bands who are forging ahead with music under the lo-fi moniker, creating tunes shrouded in disguise. It’s as divisive a topic as whether or not to like Grizzly Bear or Animal Collective; clearly the jury is out, but Blank Dogs is yet another band opting to use a barrage of noisy atmospherics in order to compose the music on Under and Under.  Of course, you’ll find that the man behind the project Mike Sniper is familiar with other leading acts in the scene such as Crystal Stilts or Dum Dum Girls.

Musically, all listeners will have to admit that the skeleton of the album itself is quite interesting, and would normally garner huge popularity in another format.  Take the lead track “No Compass” with the bouncing rhythm and angular guitar cutting through the song.  Even when the tracks come across fueled with electronic elements such as keyboards on tracks like “Blue Lights” you can catch melodies that otherwise one would typically enjoy.

However, the presentation of these skeletons is what leads to a discourse on whether or not this music can be deemed as such.  Has the deconstruction of pop sensibility gone so far that we can accept as a listener lyrics run through some sort of effect machine, creating nothing more than what appears echoes of noise?  It’s actually a deeply haunting effect that pervades the entirety of Under and Under, but it takes a certain breed of listener to endure this for long periods of time.

Taking the album fragment by fragment, you have what looks to be the construction of a very basic pop album; the guitar work that is present is not super difficult, and not far off from what  is currently on the market.  An issue with many listeners will be that the recording and the creation of all these fragments has been marred for the most part by these elements of noise that coat both the music and the vocals.

Still, you can’t deny that there is magic in this album.  Standout track “Tin Birds” would easily be on any best of compilation from the eighties, even with the foggy vocoder effect on the song.  Mike Sniper has created some really intriguing music as Blank Dogs, and a lot of it is worthy of the praise that has been heaped upon him.  But, wouldn’t it be great to see if one could create such sublime music without all the frills of making it a deconstructionist lo-fi album?  Surely it would, and only the man behind the music can lead us there, so for now we’ll have to stick for the marginally great tunes we have.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/10-tin-birds.mp3]

Download: Blank Dogs – Tin Birds [MP3]

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