Yo La Tengo


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Following the near unanimous success of 2000's And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out, Yo La Tengo released material from two collaborative projects. First, the double 7" set Now 2000/Excalibur 2001 paired the New Jersey trio with members of New York's ecstatic jazz scene. Then came Danelectro, this EP of three instrumentals and their remixed counterparts. Yo La Tengo had worked in this realm before -- the second disc of 1996's Genius + Love = Yo La Tengo collected together 14 tracks without vocals from the band's singles. Yet while the band's music for its songs is structured much like its instrumentals, the latter somehow failed to compel when standing alone.

The Danelectro EP opens with "Danelectro 3," which is approached with the sensitivity of the And Then Nothing material and is of a similar quality. Kit Clayton plays the song as a percussive and volatile backward tape loop for the remix. It can sometimes be difficult, however, to tell when a beautiful piece of instrumental music crosses over into dull territory. "Danelectro 2" begins promisingly, with sounds and textures the band had not used before, but by the midway point it simply ceases to captivate. Nobukazu Takemura breathes new life into his take. With its stuttering, shifting rhythm patterns, the result bears a striking resemblance to the work of Chicago post-rock band Tortoise.

Yo La Tengo's instrumentals work best as interludes and intriguing sidetracks on their full-length albums. On Danelectro, the instrumentals are brought out of this context, and are not as successful. While a remix can be an interesting exercise, the results should speak for themselves. Danelectro's reworkings come close, but this is certainly not the place to approach Yo La Tengo. Fans will find it an interesting, though unnecessary, addition to their collections.

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