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splendid > reviews > 4/22/2003
Robin Guthrie
Robin Guthrie
Imperial
Bella Union


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Music For Labour"

Buy me now
This solo release from legendary Cocteau Twin Guthrie doesn't sound much like you'd expect. Oh, sure, there's ethereality to spare (seriously, I caught the CD using my e-Bay account to try to sell some excess ethereality), but the music is almost totally devoid of a rhythm section. And, for that matter, forward motion. What Imperial is, is one of those "soundscape" projects that extremely talented rock guitarists like to create late in their careers. While on occasions ("Thunderbird Road", for example) the music starts to sound a bit more urgent, for the most part Mr. Guthrie is content to noodle contemplatively around a few chords while subtle keyboards and layered guitar flourishes drift gently around him.

Look, there's no question whatsoever that this is a well-put-together, carefully arranged and tastefully executed album created by a consummate craftsman. On the other hand, its palette (and, I fear, its audience) is limited to the placid and gently swaying. The tracks will sound too similar to many listeners (like me, for instance). It's tough for me to say whether Imperial is a success; on one hand, I think it accomplishes its purpose admirably. On the other hand, I'm not sure the purpose its creator had in mind is one I'd be willing to put my thirteen bucks behind.



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