Thursday, February 24, 2011

bombazine black: motion picture (letters and tapes)

Motion Picture is a record of real delicacy and composure. It is careful, subtle and, at its best, a profoundly affecting listen: an accomplished second offering from Matt Davis of Gersey’s Melbourne-based instrumental outfit Bombazine Black. Texturally Davis draws on the sort of post-rock palette that will be recognizable to fans of Explosions in the Sky and God Speed You! Black Emperor, but the overall effect is markedly different. Only very rarely, for instance, does Davis break from his clean arpeggiated guitar lines into the sort of blasted chords, distortion and feedback so characteristic of the genre. This is an album which deals in ebb and flow rather than brawny climaxes.

That is both to Bombazine Black’s great credit and an occasional stumbling block. Because the weakest tracks here – opener Annelets and Montmartre­ – are also the most restrained. On these, the attempt to nurture space falls short of the full-blown minimalism which would have been necessary to really draw the listener in, with the result that the slow tempos begin to plod and the sparse instrumentation comes across as limp. On Annelets, especially, the synths sound lacklustre. This is true, in fact, at a number of moments on the record. A modest string section would have worked better on almost every occasion.

As far as highlights go, Dark Kellys, The Bell Esprit and Springheel Sunsets all deserve a mention. They work because they are able to maintain the space and subtlety that give Motion Picture its character at the same time as they ramp up the intensity. In this respect trumpeter Eugene Ball is put to particularly good use. The question for Bombazine Black is whether, on their next record, they will have the courage to go for even more still. In either direction would be fine, whether subtler and more sparse or grander and more dense. I can’t help but feel Davis and co. have plenty more to give.

No comments:

Post a Comment