Review by Kent Manthie
This great, psychedelic noise & sludge-fest, 10x, by Celestial Shore is a diverse work of a few different milieux, But, in the end, the result is like a mighty tasty cocktail – one with quite a kick to it! The great work that has glued together 10x, put together a really brilliant work of joy. It’s got some really mind-blowing slow stuff that, suddenly lifts up into this rocketing jam for a few minutes and then they come back to earth and back to the theme of the tune at hand. This is what makes it so good to play in his band: he demands as much out of you, in fact, more than you, yourself could ever do.
At first, the opening cut, “Stairs Under Stars” and the second song “Valerie” as well as “Coming and Going” reminded me a little bit of Athens GA’s traveling circus act, of Montreal (BTW, that’s a compliment), the latter, “Coming and Going” marking a departure point, where Celestial Shore dive into a deeper part of the pool. But don’t get me wrong: I don’t mean to say that these guys are doing anything derivative. The things that reminded me of Kevin Barnes’s traveling psychodramas were the fast and frequent time changes and the kaleidoscopic atmospherics. When the album first started playing, of Montreal was the first thing that popped into my head. Only a coincidence, though, mind you, only a coincidence.
The latter tunes, “Rabbit Hole”, “Sleep”, which is really groovy, mind you, not to mention, oh hell, I’ll just run through ’em all – “Even After”, “Car Car” and the closer, “Swimmer’s Sinking Feeling”: they all have their own uniqueness as well as a collective fit that ties them together for a fabulous album, the kind that is best listened to in one sitting, such as a whole symphony or opera (but not as long!)
I wouldn’t ever deign to call it “dance music” but that certainly doesn’t mean one can’t get an infectious groove within and go from a mere tapping of the toes to working up a gyrating sweat on a dark, cavernous dance floor – no plastic discos here, please.
One other reason this is a great work to listen to, all in one setting is that the album itself clocks in at approximately 30 minutes, which, 15-20 years ago would be considered an “EP length” album. Nowadays, though, having gone through so many new indie releases, I’ve noticed that so many new bands are now, for one reason or another, keeping their albums terse. I remember back in the late 80s and the 90s, when the CD was the king of music media that a lot of CDs coming out by various rock bands – of various subgenres – were cutting discs that had 15-18 songs on them and since, with the “new” and longer format of compact discs, one could fit up to 75 minutes of music and most of the time they would! This whole phenomenon resulted in some mixed results. In a few cases there were some genius works that had over an hour of interesting orchestrations but in many others, the CDs that some not-as-inventive bands would just fill up this new, longer-format medium with as much stuff as they could – many had some good or even great tracks, but after what should’ve – for lots of these guys – been albums that were the same length as the old paradigm of 45 minute records because after about 9 or 10 tunes, they still had a lot of space to fill out so they’d take advantage of it and even if they didn’t have anything great to round them out, they did it anyway, which made for a LOT of overdone, self-indulgent introspection or grandstanding.
But with the rise of the iPod and other MP3 players, which can fit, in some cases, a whole CD collection, it seems that all of the former music media – vinyl, cassette tapes and even CDs (at least manufactured, store bought CDs) are obsolete, yet quaint and now we seem to have come full circle, back to a shorter form of album. EPs are 3 or 4 songs, running about 18 minutes or so and a full-length can be anywhere between 30 minutes and 45 minutes. But what has turned out is that now music aficionados can be a lot happier with the higher quality instead of the high quantity.
Speaking of Of Montreal, they do seem to be an exception to the shorter album lengths I mentioned – my favorite of Montreal album, Skeletal Lamping, is a bit over an hour in length. But it is one that really works out fantastically in that way.
Anyway, to get back to Celestial Shore: they are really something and I want to hear more. Listening to 10x was exciting, invigorating and a real rush that tells me all’s well in the indie world. There’s definitely no shortage of inventive geniuses who can really put some great sounds together.
Go to http://www.stereogum.com for information on Celestial Shore as well as the rest of Stereogum’s roster. You can get your copy of 10x from the website as well or you can check Amazon.com instead. Somehow, though, you really gotta check this out! -KM