Doldrums

Desk Trickery

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    9
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AllMusic Review by

The band's shortest release to date -- only 45 minutes -- Desk Trickery shows a bit more of the free-form, frenetic side of the band that beforehand only appeared on its VHF releases. After the brief tune-up "Office Scene," things get nicely, thoroughly frazzled with "Sparkling Deadheadz." Doldrums' is a politer kind of chaos, with the drums quick but not, say, Boredoms-level, the addition of what sounds like everything from bagpipes to out of nowhere electronic blips accentuating the steady drone underpinning it all instead of overwhelming it. It all works wonders, and it sets the stage for the remainder of the seven-track album perfectly. The group's humor still surfaces clearly in the song titles: "Who Shot J. R.?" and the witty "Godspeed You Young Actress!," an obvious nod to the Montreal collective Godspeed You Black Emperor!, which by then had become Kranky's highest-profile act. Far from being a specific parody or homage, though, the track is an amiable, downright catchy little number that may be as close as Doldrums will ever come to creating pop Neu! The quicker flow of the album, with its slightly more fragmented feel, still has all the evocative atmosphere of the group's other work, with varying explorations of the drone principle and ambient sonics-via-guitars the key to everything. The central track, "Grill Out Times" lives up to its name in intriguing fashion. It feels very much like Doldrums decided to create a gentle song to sear a steak by on a late, lazy summer afternoon, with a soft, swinging rhythm and amiable guitar noodling here and there, along with some relaxed (and as always for the band rare) singing. Add in the excellent, blasting solo on "Free Festival of the Stonebridge" and the grinning alien toys all over the front cover, and what more could be desired?

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