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John Vanderslice: Pixel Revolt

 
How can John Vanderslice create a record that shows up nearly everyone else? And that's by sound alone, eschewing the rampant and ever advancing digital method, Vanderslice has once more done it the old fashioned way... he analoged it. Where others improve their sound by waiting for the latest digital innovation, John Vanderslice must use his imagination to uncover new ways of using old equipment. And this must be very appealing to an artistic soul such as Vanderslice. The dynamic of a band, a group of men playing music together must appeal as well, but where most approach this point of view musically, Vanderslice employs this influence from a much more cerebral angle. Utilizing the writing prowess and advice of The Mountain Goats, John Darnielle, and David Berman of The Silver Jews; and putting his faith and trust in the imagination and 'ears' of chief collaborator, sound engineer Scott Solter. Musically, Vanderslice gets amazing support from cellist, Erik Friedlander, and West Coast chanteuse, Nedelle.

Vanderslice's fifth release, Pixel Revolt, shimmers and sways, breathes upon the listener with perfumed breath, lulling you into the world of a man of many passions; passions which blend to create music that is without category, somewhere between indie pop/rock and cutting edge indie film. That is a broad category with many influences to rub off on the artist while moving from one end to the other. While moving from the first track to the last of Pixel Revolt which seems a much more personal affair than previous efforts. Themes of love in its many stages permeate a variety of songs. A self-acknowledged film junkie, again he offers up an ode to a cherished film; this time it is Lars Von Trier's, Element of Crime, in the song, "Continuation". Fourteen songs are Pixel Revolt and this album is as collaborative as the process of film. If the small crew of a short art film set about to record an album, it would be much like the process of Pixel Revolt.

A work like PR is, or can be, overwhelming. You could spend hour upon hour deconstructing, deciphering, decoding, what is embedded on that little plastic disc in your CD player. When you come right down to it, Pixel Revolt, may be a love letter from John Vanderslice to persons and things unknown, unknown to us and perhaps to it's author. But since the majority of evidence suggests that Vanderslice is an extremely generous person, I will say that this album is a love letter to everyone who listens to it. It's imagination, intelligence, talent, and generosity. It's hugs and kisses from John. But what these songs are, is brilliant, tiny films coming down the line from a tiny telephone. A tiny telephone clutched in the fist of Mr. Vanderslice, so turn down the lights and pop the popcorn... the show is about to begin.

Alan Williamson
*sixeyes

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