Dntel

Early Works for Me If It Works for You II

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Jimmy Tamborello's breakthrough album as Dntel, 2001's Life Is Full of Possibilities, was something of a watershed in the evolution of the gentle, organic strains of electronic music that coalesced in the early 2000s as lap-pop and folktronica, particularly as those strands intertwined with elements of dream pop and vocal indie rock. It was also, as a precursor to the Postal Service, an indirect harbinger of the decade's synth pop resurgence, though that's another story. His earlier output, originally issued on the Phthalo label and long since out of print, but collected here in a handsome three-disc edition, may be less distinguished and distinctive, but it's accomplished and enjoyable material in its own right. Capturing a phase of that evolution more in line with the prevailing IDM currents of the 1990s, Dntel's first two albums are notably more beat-heavy than his later efforts. Early Works for You If It Works for Me (the first official Dntel album, recorded between 1995 and 1997) is dominated by skittering, ยต-Ziq-style breakbeats awash in ambient atmospherics, while Something Always Goes Wrong (released later but actually recorded earlier, in 1994) is somewhat gentler and simpler, with longer and dreamier tracks that serve as a better showcase for Tamborello's sense of melody and his penchant for hazy reverie. The set's third disc, simply titled Early Works for Me If It Works for You II, collects previously unreleased pieces recorded between 1998 and 2003. Though not a complete break from his more IDM-based earlier work, these tracks are considerably more varied in terms of texture and mood, and display some striking differences sonically, incorporating many warmer and more organic sounds (including acoustic guitar on "Paul Guitar," glitchified voices on "Bluegrass," and an interpolated vocal snippet from American Analog Set's "The Wait" on "Don't Try") and generally adopting a more tender, assured tone. Created before, during, and after the making of Life, this material should hold considerable interest for fans of that album, as it conveys similar emotional flavors despite not being quite so singular and concise. It would be hard to describe the wealth of material collected in this set as truly essential, but it's lovely and utterly worthwhile stuff nonetheless, and Plug Research has done listeners a service by making it readily available, again and for the first time.

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