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Gould, Bill, & Jared Blum: The Talking Book

Under the correct circumstances, combining natural sounds with lo-fi soundscapes can result in some truly haunting moments. Nature houses of all our emotions, and hearing them amidst equally affective ambience can be arresting. Unfortunately, despite its best intentions, The Talking Book fails capture anything worthwhile; the only thing listener's will be moved toward is boredom and frustration.

A collaboration between former Faith No More bassist, Bill Gould, and conceptual sound artist, Jared "Blanketship" Blum, The Talking Book is the first in a planned series of "oxidized aural snapshots buried between the gloom and the gorgeous." Aiming to represent loss, beauty, and the like with sparse instrument usage, odd effects, and organic sounds, it instead feels like directionless avant-garde musings. There is a constant sense of drama, but it never actually goes anywhere.

The two title tracks bookend the album, and they consist of record static, low bass notes, high piano notes, and odd insect noises. While ominous, industrial, and sparse, it never evolves; like most of The Talking Book, it's a dark introduction used as a full piece. It's as if Gould and Blum specialize in producing only the noisy, alienating sections of post-rock and neglect the musical parts that they separate.

In fact, while instruments appear throughout the album, they are rarely ever given proper attention— there are virtually no melodies at all. Furthermore, only a few instances, like the guitar arpeggio on "The Fallen" and the synthesizer on "Sundown," achieve any sense of emotional interaction. Tracks like these are best suited to serve as brief interludes between actual songs; it's almost unbelievable that anyone would want to hear an entire album of this stuff, let alone create it.

The Talking Book is an album that earns far more points for its intention and ambition than for its execution. There's nothing wrong with experimentation and thinking outside the box, but one must aim for appeal as well as abstraction. Agalloch's "The White Mountain…" is 90+ seconds of train horns and a few organ notes, and it's incredibly touching; The Talking Book spends over an hour trying its best to achieve the same effect, and it never comes close.

1. Talking Book I
2. Sundown
3. I Have A Secret To Tell
4. Maxim
5. Open Your Eyes
6. The Morass
7. Frequency Log
8. Notes From The Field
9. SKS
10. The Fallen
11. Talking Book II

Added: June 27th 2011
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Related Link: Koolarrow Records
Hits: 2487
Language: english

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