Well, fuck me, I've actually listened to this Railcars 12" (sort of single...well EP) at 33, and not until I checked out the sample MP3 from Stumparumper of 'Castles' did I finally set the trusty turntable on 45...that information might be hidden in the excellent artwork by Claudia O'Steen somewhere on the sleeve or inner labels , but I'll be damned if I can't find it...it's the most intricate collage/drawing/sketch of (I think) Saint Edmund...who is the central figure in this conceptual noise pop album.
Railcars or Aria Jalali and co. are currently tearing up both coasts and then off to Europe...he's been in LA the past few nights, go check out his myspace for the lengthy list of venues.
He does a great job of tying all of these tracks together with little subtle sounds and melodies that keep popping up...it's not just a bunch of things loosely maybe fitting together and naming it all under one theme...this has gone the distance to create really one cohesive album...a journey having to do with Saint Edmund, his life, rebirth and martyrdom.
Like the myth of Edmund...you'll never know exactly what the truth is or what you're listening to, it's the kind of complex layered ambiance that can start out mistakenly as background but rises out of the haze to grab your attention regularly. It's going to get turned up to catch just exactly what is going on. And even then it's just going to get more confusing. It will sound better...but it becomes more and more alien. Heavy distortion on everything, processing the process, effect the effects...then throw the whole thing on vinyl...wait! First a ring modulation... Is there a problem with the stereo? The needle? It's time to troubleshoot everything to throw on that 'control' record to figure out levels...was this mastered this way? Then a clear as day sound will pierce through distorted layers and reaffirms Railcars knows exactly what he's doing.
It's pretty frantic, and maybe that's why I mistakenly tried it at 33 the first time, somehow I don't think anyone would be actually compelled to get up on the dancefloor, it just gives everything a kind of carnival, all-is-not-right with this picture sound, especially the ever present bell sounds that add a creepy cheery pied piper call.
The vocals are so manipulated on every track, it's no use trying to make sense of them, it's another piece of the cocktail meant to be mixed in completely, not trying to stand out, just blend into a well proportioned experience, an abrasive soundscape boxed set of sound. The noise/ambiance of 'Life of Saint Edmund (ponds)' seamlessly flows into 'Castles', building on the glitchy, weirdo synth sounds that quickly start to fade into the rising waves of hiss and distortion, the melodies just barely afloat...like looking out at those waves for something...a flash of a life preserver, anything recognizable....and that's as far as I got...I know something is catching my attention when I go to listen to it numerous times trying to focus and pick it apart only to get lost halfway through...was there a song break? Is that the same melody coming back in this track? I lost it again...it's relentless pounding noise.
I actually get a little sad I have to break this up when I go to flip over to the B-Side...would this actually benefit from being on CD?
It also comes with a great color print insert by Stephanie Davidson, if you are one of the first 100. If you really want to make me happy, tell Pat 7inches sent you. This is a fantastic release from a great label.
Pat dove headfirst into starting Stumparumper this last year and keeps putting out really interesting stuff. I have to get to the christmas 4 way and the Fuck Montreal singles...soon.
I'm jealous...for all the thinking I do about it, Pat made it happen.
Guess what my New Years resolution is?