Celesteville

Invisible Tape

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    8
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A collection of songs written and recorded here and there between 1996 and 2000, Invisible Tape captures, however unintentionally, Anderson's switch from Yak Brigade to his later artistic identity. Indeed, one of the songs, the fragile, quietly creepy "Celesteville," provided the name for said identity, while the collection itself appropriately appears on tape only. Given that everything was recorded on Anderson's trusty four-track, it only makes sense to stay in that medium here. Overall Invisible Tape tends toward the subtle; there are not many attempts at rocking out (in the conventional sense, at least) and the lo-fi flow of everything doesn't sound like affectation, as it does on so many overly precious releases by others. His appreciation for many musics around the world makes for some captivating results, as when the open-ended guitar chords on "Try" seem to hint at sitars playing gamelan. The opener is one of his best -- "A Tableau" -- with a waltz-time rhythm defining the murky, dreamy combination of overdubbed vocals, roughly chiming guitars, and rustling drums. The feeling is very intimate and close even as his singing seems to slip into the mix, making a gently disorienting start. "Nocturne" is another hands-down winner, soft but distorted keyboards and drones quietly playing descending, dying notes amidst a swirl of echoed electric guitar bits and unidentified noises. Anderson's ear for never just trying for the one-person-with-guitar approach serves him very well throughout -- check out the squirrelly moans and whines mixed with drum box on "Mercury" or the sputtering beats and heavily treated guitar clangor on "Youth for Mondale," topped off with soft singing and flute. "When the Batteries Drain" is great as well, Anderson finding his own way around a glitch rhythm, continually interrupted and abused with other sudden stops and starts.