Thursday, December 15, 2005

Menomena / Under an Hour / Rating 7.9

PFM says: "In late 2003, Menomena rocketed to acclaim from self-released obscurity in a matter of months."

True. Their first release I am the fun blame monster is absolutely pure genius (in the spirit of Prefuse tackling Radiohead) and deserved even more attention than it was given at the time.

While Pitchfork and music bloggers circled their wagons in the name of Menomena press for the band / the record on a larger scale was WEAK.

PFM says: "Under an Hour, Menomena's honestly-titled second album (it's 54 minutes long), is frankly so different from their debut that it's hardly worth comparing the two."

True. Very true. Had I been unfamiliar with this band’s debut release I would in all honesty listen to this “new album” once and not think much about the band or their music ever again.

PFM says: "it's made up of three long instrumentals composed to soundtrack the work of a dance troupe called the Monster Squad"

True. Though I find it difficult to accept Under an Hour as Menomena’s “new album” (hence the " ") because it was created as a soundtrack for dance troupe. Without getting into too many what ifs I don’t imagine Menomena would have created this very same record had they not been working under the strict guidelines of considering there will be movement of the human body to the sounds they produced no less restricted to the themes of “Water” Flour” and Light” .

PFM says: "unlike many soundtrack/installation pieces, it's quite listenable on its own, falling roughly in the same chamber music realm as Rachel's or Max Richter, though more stretched out and less orchestral."

If you call something that sounds like a Windham Hill sampler remixed by Morphine (AKA sax heavy) and a glitch-hop DJ “quite listenable” then I guess the above is true.

PFM says: "it's a logical extension of the way the band uses shifting textures and musical juxtapositions in the service of its pop songs."

False. Logical? I suppose it has to be plausible because this IS the music Menomena chose to produce and release for mass consumption but this musically goes far beyond a slight departure of their former selves and I don't think anybody could have projected the bands second release would be a moden dance score.

PFM says : "Each piece has multiple tension points and crescendos to keep your ear engaged for a hard listen, but it honestly works best as background music."

True. Background music is what this trio of songs are at best... but any score aficionado would tell you a successful soundtrack stands powerfully on its own. Under an Hour barely accomplishes this and in turn the 7.9 rating should be more like a 5.

Modern dancers might make these songs come alive but without the honor of seeing them work together I am forced to judge the music in pure audio form. This record fails on two levels; it neither surpasses the greatness of their debut release nor does it match the dymanic expertise of instrumental compositions by artists like Godspeed.

PFM says: Luckily, Menomena's artistic success doesn't seem to be changing them a great deal.

False? The term “artistic success” is a little vague and I don’t know understand if “them” applies to the band or the people in the band. This new record represents a definite and serious change for the band musically speaking and to be honest Menomena’s records have yet to really reach the masses.

Their first release and clearly their most accessible / listener friendly cd thus far has a minimal sales history (waaaay under 10k) and it goes to show that internet hype can be larger than life and doesn’t often / easily translate into a real sales success story or popularity that a band like Wolf Parade is basking in now.

Maybe I am incorrect for not considering Under an Hour to be a genuine second Menomena release but all bets are on as to what their third release will sound like. Personally I hope this all instrumental phase doesn’t become the bands life long carreer.