Land of the Loops

Puttering About a Small Land

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    5
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Alan Sutherland, aka Land of the Loops, is in much the same form here as he was on Bundle of Joy. That means he's making more atmospheric, sample-heavy electronica. Things still sound relatively lo-fi and a bit too unfocused, but the vocal help he receives from Heather Lewis, the completely charming Takako Minekawa, DJ Trouble, and Jovita Carpenter means Sutherland never strays too far from the twee/dream pop side of his influences. Where Sutherland goes wrong is in his reliance on samples that simply aren't compelling or as humorous as intended during the opening tracks; it's almost as if he's sabotaging his own abilities with random movie dialogue and overly dreamy vocals. Sutherland gets more serious toward the close of the album, and the spooky cohesion of the final few tracks suggests that he is better with arrangements than he's shown on past releases. "Marshmellow Pillows" is probably one of the better instrumental, ambient songs released in 2000, and it reveals a near classical side of Land of the Loops that's been previously dormant. Like Bundle of Joy, Puttering About a Small Land brings to mind Cornelius' genre hopping, His Name Is Alive's creepy vocals and atmosphere, and Seefeel's ambient euphoria. The problem is that the lo-fi beats don't always necessarily mingle that comfortably with the otherworldly sound effects and processed soundwash collages. The His Name Is Alive sound-alike moments of "Fresh Pond Parkway" and "Patience" work better than similar moments on Bundle of Joy. "Fresh Pond Parkway" might be Sutherland's best yet synthesis of the broad styles he employs. Sounding like His Name Is Alive in another solar system, jamming in a cool, hip-hop electronica mood, the track is entirely winning. "Patience" sounds, if anything, like His Name Is Alive attempting an icy, early New Order cover. Puttering About a Small Land works best when it's cranked quite loud, allowing every hiss and crackle to give the music more depth. Land of the Loops has yet to make an album that shows complete maturity, and it's a bit unfortunate that Sutherland too frequently goes the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink route. Still, Puttering About a Small Land certainly sounds like a step in the right direction.

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