Her Space Holiday

The Past Presents the Future

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Her Space Holiday mastermind Marc Bianchi brings a designer's sense to his albums, carefully arranging his sardonically whispered vocals over perfectly placed percussion beeps and swaths of strings, keys, or treated guitars. You can imagine him fretting over the space between two syllables, just as longtime HSH collaborator Hanni el Khatib must hash out the artwork and design for HSH records through long hours of sketching and color matching. That attention to detail saved 2003's Young Machines from becoming an exercise in push-button depression, because Bianchi's indie electronicist arrangements were either pristine little drama soundtracks or explorations into lonely-guy bedroom dance-pop. 2005's Past Presents the Future works the same elements, but this time Bianchi's micromanagement separates him from the misanthropy. "Missed Machine," for example, endorses the milking of melancholy as a form of self-reliance; it does this over a ticking, clicking, and subtle recut of a vintage Motown bassline. "Match Made in Texas" waxes about gender roles and missed connections as bongos bounce along underneath a gently lingering guitar; it could be the product of a fey Dandy Warhols. These songs obviously aren't as confessional as Bianchi once was. He's the observer instead, or the listener, as he is in "You and Me." But with its beautiful mix of spacy programming and OMD-style new romantic pop, "You and Me" is also one of the only songs on Past Presents the Future that's truly whole. Every note, every drumbeat, every manipulated piece of melody on the album -- they're as clear as primary colors. But the perfect, separate parts in songs like "Good People of Everywhere" and "Weight of the World" never fully assemble, and Past Presents the Future falters between a coalesced pop sound and its pristine fragments.

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