Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dntel - Early Works for Me If It Works for You II

CD 1 (Something Allways Goes Wrong)
1. In Which Our Hero Begins His Long and Arduous Quest
2. In Which Our Hero Finds a Faithful Sidekick
3. In Which Our Hero Is Put Under a Spell
4. In Which Our Hero Dodges Bullets and Swords
5. In Which Our Hero Frees the Damsel in Distress
6. In Which Our Hero Is Decapitated by the Evil King
7. In Which Our Hero Begins His Long and Arduous Ques [Seq Remix]
8. In Which Our Hero Was Taken by Surprise [Languis Remix]
9. S.O.S.
10. Machine and a Memory Keep You Alive

CD 2 (Early Works For Me If It Works For You)
1. Loneliness Is Having No One to Miss
2. High Horses Theme
3. Pliesex Sielking
4. Termites in the Bathtub
5. Fort Instructions
6. Curtains
7. Tybalt 60
8. Danny Loves Experimental Electronics
9. Sky Pointing
10. Casuals
11. Winds Let Me Down Again
12. Jewel States, "The Door Borders"

CD 3 (Early Works For Me If It Works For You II)
1. New Name
2. Incomplete 1
3. Paul Guitar
4. Don't Try
5. Serious
6. Darker Earlier
7. Smile Break
8. Incomplete 4
9. Moody
10. Slowdance
11. Fancy Ian
12. Jittery
13. Incomplete 2
14. Bluegrass (Short)
15. Mini
16. Laughs
17. First Day After the Worst
18. Ender

Before the Postal Service grew from a charming side project into an omnipresent harbinger of indie-rock's growing commercial profile, there was a kid playing bass for a band called Strictly Ballroom while recording techno in his dorm room under the name Dntel. Jimmy Tamborello's solo electronic project wouldn't make much noise until his third record, Life Is Full of Possibilities, released in 2001 when hiring indie singers to vocalize over electronic compositions was a novel idea. Still, it wasn't just the vocal tracks that held Tamborello's breakthrough album together. Early Works For Me If It Works For You II compiles his first two albums on the Phthalo label with some heretofore unreleased material from around the time of his third. Much of the setstands in the long shadow cast by Warp Records' 90s roster, and Tamborello isn't shy about admitting that. But it also contains early experiments with the chilly but affecting instrumentals that filled in the cracks between Tamborello's more infamous collaborations, and it holds up better than you might think.

The material goes all the way back to 1994 and up through the early 00s, covering a fertile time for amateur electronic composers. Recorded in 1994, but released by Phthalo in 2001, Something Always Goes Wrong finds Tamborello just beginnging to flex his limbs. The distorted, non-repeating drum work throughout showed a love for Aphex Twin and u-ziq, but is never quite as intricate or sophisticated as either of those producer's work. "In Which Our Hero Finds a Faithful Sidekick" rides its breakbeats and yawning bass towards a vague and familiar spy-movie feeling, and while the 8-bit-sounding effects are a lot more conspicuous here than on Dntel's later records, the stretch from "In Which Our Hero Is Put Under a Spell" to "...Frees the Damsel in Distress" develops the slow and swooning vibe Tamborello explored much more fully in the near future. In contrast to his heroes, Tamborello's style was more cautious and uncluttered, making the most from his nascent ability.

While Something was Dntel's earliest material, Early Works For Me If It Works For You was his first release. From the first track on, Early Works... displayed bolder, faster, and more intricate drum patterns. Tamborello was getting better at emulating his influences, but something else was happening, too-- he often dips his toes into textures he'd later grow more comfortable with, like a hurdy-gurdy-like tone that sounds more like live instrumentation and a brief vocal sample on "Fort Instructions". You can also hear much of the melancholy keys and surging, almost soothing white noise that made his breakthrough, Life Is Full of Possibilities, so distinct. "Casuals" blends all these elements together equally: A vocal sample is even almost audible over an insistent, repetitious drum pattern and a melancholy melody, but all of it is washed-out and obscured by crackling distortion. It felt a little more slippery in terms of genre, but it also tapped a desolate, yet romantic emotional core.


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  2. CD 1

    CD 2

    Cd 3

    thanks to joi6760