The Microphones

Blood

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Blood is the first of two limited-edition, vinyl-only Microphones LPs released in 2002 by the St. Ives label, a boutique label run by Secretly Canadian. A lovingly crafted scrapbook of sound, Blood blurs the line between "finished product" and "work in progress," but still manages to hold together as a fairly coherent piece. Side one is made up mostly of found sound, clanging cymbals, feedback, echoing drum beats, and tape hiss culled from various Microphones and Microphones-related recording sessions. Most surprisingly among all the rapidly shifting fragments is the beautiful, almost ska-sounding "Slighted," sung (and written) by longtime Microphones collaborator Mirah. Side two is more song-oriented on the whole, featuring solo guitar and piano songs with Phil Elvrum singing stream-of-consciousness-style lyrics with his distinctive, quivering warble. Even for the casual Microphones fan, Blood is worth tracking down. It might not sound as complete as the proper full-lengths, but it's surprisingly compelling for a collection of experiments and fragmentary ideas -- after all, those are big parts of what the Microphones are in the first place.