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splendid > reviews > 1/12/2005
The Goslings
The Goslings
Spaceheater
Asaurus


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Statuette"

Buy me now
Don't let the cute 'n' cuddly name fool you -- The Goslings aren't an indie-pop act. You might even need to broaden your definition of music to accommodate them.

In a broad sense, The Goslings make ambient music -- brooding, glacial soundscapes assembled from field recordings, heavily processed instruments, generated tones, hisses and static, found sounds and other indigenous aural flora. They stir it all together into a dense primordial sound-soup that, despite offering a few stretches of recognizable musicality, won't make your next party playlist unless you're (a) doling out the weapons-grade pharmaceuticals, or (b) trying to get everyone to go home.

Spaceheater's four tracks run the gamut from delicate beauty to...well, a fair approximation of what it probably sounds like inside a space heater. Opener "In May" is the most intractable of the bunch -- thirteen minutes of microphone buzz, static, rumbles and other distant ambient noise. There's a strong indication that a lot is going on around you, but the lingering static grind blocks out most sensory input. "In May" has a "song" component in its final minutes -- a rather joyless, funereal melody and shapeless vocals. It's not much of a payoff after ten minutes, but it adds a nugget of beauty to a fairly bleak track.

"Statuette", by contrast, sounds like a shoegazer tune that's been left for a month in a stagnant puddle -- it's stretched-out, bleached, runny and unfocused, but still pretty in spots. Its final few minutes are pure silence -- unless you crank the volume. "Lillian" evolves from similar near-total silence, building from a sub-audible bass drone to a slowed-down vocal, minimal fragments of a syrupy melody scattered across the foreground; unless you own good headphones or even better speakers, it'll be the disc's least engaging track. "Summer For Spring", fortunately, makes a strong finish, matching the otherworldly clatter of a gamelan with various found sounds, resonant tones, modified vocals and synth doodling. Again, no substitute for a three minute pop song -- and not designed as such -- but an interesting exercise.

Your level of interest in Spaceheater and The Goslings depends upon whether you're content with music as an "interesting exercise". If you're seeking the pure, immediate thrills of conventional rock music, or even the blurred but tuneful entreaties of IDM, Spaceheater is unlikely to satisfy you; it's more about the broad experience of existence -- of being somewhere, even several places at once -- than motion or speed or spectacle. It's likely that more listeners would dismiss the disc as listless garbage than would embrace it as a work of paradigm-flattening brilliance, but an accurate assessment lies somewhere midway between those two poles.



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