Bill Ding

Trust in God But Tie up Your Camel

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As part of the '90s Chicago indie scene, you can bet Bill Ding were familiar with musical elements as divergent as jazz, industrial grind, and jarring electronics, and indeed, the band mixed and matched those elements better than most, in the process throwing in all manner of other musical and emotional concoctions. All these elements came to a superlatively realized confluence on the band's second and, sadly, final full-length effort. Without ever sounding contrived or labored, Trust in God But Tie Up Your Camel touches upon myriad sources and pulls them seamlessly together as if they were meant to be that way. In fact, "labored" was the farthest concept from the band's mind. They give little impression that they push anything very hard, everything simply falls into place whether it is sonically harsh or hushed and insular, and they leave well enough alone. John Hughes III provides whiplash electronics to Dan Sazelle's guitar and bass, Rick Embach's vibes, and Pat Kenney's drumming, and the band is equally at home whipping up an avant frenzy or unraveling gentle ambience, orchestral washes, or delicate folk. When Hughes adds his Beck-like slack vocals, it ties all the contrasting musical elements together so that it sounds neither agitated nor sleepy; rather it is supremely laid-back and enveloping and inclusive, if self-consciously experimental and deconstructionist. It never, though, comes off glibly clever. There is so much going on that the album requires repeated listening, but once its initial jolting impact sinks in, it is easy to take in the beatnik-like vibe that comes through on songs like "Goddamn Your Thing" and "Make It Pretty," the brilliant, intense, hard trip-hop ("Waterway Systems Two"), playful dub ("Outbreak"), kinetic drum'n'bass ("WCNI?," "Vaporize") and pretty acoustic balladry ("Short Strings," "The Beat of Murmur") all sprinkled with jazz. It all comes together as a single music from a single band with a single impulse, and it is all wonderful.

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