Gareth Davies And Steven R. Smith – The Line Across

Posted on February 16, 2010


Call me hopelessly old fashioned, but when an album consisting of two twenty minute tracks lands with a thud in my inbox, alarm bells similar to those heard in the dying moments of the Titanic begin to screech away at my brain. Very few bands can pull off such bizarre experimentation and make it compelling (see The Flaming Lips), all too often an orthodox approach of this kind of carries with it the smell of pretension. A slightly closed minded approach maybe, but Christ after I’d listened to Gareth Davies and Steven R Smith I wished I had listened to those alarm bells, jumped over the side and swam for safety. It would have been more fun.

Pressing play on The Line Across unleashes two minutes of almost entirely empty sound on each track, and even when noises do gasp out of the speakers it’s not much of an improvement. Both Other Forms of Consecrated Life and The Natural History Of Devastation (the song titles there doing nothing to dispel the initial inkling of pretension) seem to have been conceived by throwing random guitar strokes and clarinet notes into a mixing desk and seeing which arrangements makes the least sense. There’s no musical flow, only the same gloomy tempo without any hint of melodic sense.

I have nothing against instrumental releases, indeed some of the most affecting melodies are set free by a lack of lyrics, but The Line Across carries a misplaced sense of artistic merit about it which actually makes it sound more akin to a bad soundscape. There is nothing to connect to, no soul. All this leaves The Line Across a wearying experience without any obvious reasons to revisit it.


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