Label: Memphis Industries Release date: 8/11/10 Link: Official Site By this point in my experience as a listener and fan of Black Moth Super Rainbow (possibly R.I.P?), I’ve come to like each member of the project, past and present, as a solo member. Tobacco’s solo material, the bizarre BMSR feel and all, has long been something I’ve loved, with Maniac Meat being a release that felt as long overdue as it did cathartic. The Seven Fields of Aphelion does her ambient/not ambient stuff to great effect, and former bassist Power Pill Fist is an Atari wizard when it comes to his glorious (and terrifyingly ballsy) noise. So now there’s another new album from a BMSR member – Ryan Graveface (AKA the owner of Graveface Records and bassist for Black Moth), or rather his band Dreamend, a project that combines folk, shoegaze, indie rock, fidelities of every echelon, musique concrète, then fuses it into one monster with a penchant for elaborate record packaging. So I Ate Myself, Bite By Bite, their latest release – a record that turns into a Victorian-style rotary animator (I’m sorry, phenakistoscope), no less – is as grandiose as one might expect, although it’s been done in such an understated and humble way that the question of “what would happen if they did more?” lingers consistently. Let’s not waste any time, mince any words, for this album comes at you as described above – understatedly grand. While the allure of a gentle, simple, repeating autoharp/piano/glockenspiel/banjo/sounds of crickets going on for about a minute and forty-five seconds is a strong one, a byproduct of the strength of repetition and genuinely interesting songwriting, the entrance of vocals, percussion, and true interplay drives the song for the remaining four odd minutes, a post-rock jam par excellence meshed somewhere with a Quaalude chomping Can (if they only used the above instrumentation). Where the end of an absorbing and truly surrounding opener leads is, sadly, a bit more of an affair of calculated brevity. None of the remaining eight tracks ever come close to four minutes (to hit the 3’53” mark, though), but that’s a minor quibble given the general strength of the songs themselves. They speak volumes in their use of limited instrumentation (usually just banjo, percussion, guitar or mandolin, bass, and vocals); the vocals similarly convey a range of emotions in their earnest delivery. It’s the sound of personal truths and moments reflected in music, or just some damn good chord choices – either answer suffices when things are on point here. Of course, there must be some lopsidedness here, with a proclaimed ‘Interlude’ being a more interesting and pleasurable excursion than the upbeat ‘Aching Silence,’ a song that might have benefited from a loss of the Fang Island styled vocals that tended to rob the lyrics of anything they might have truly carried in this setting. In general, there seems to be this bizarre middling ground where, when taken as whole, So I Ate Myself, Bite By Bite wallows in – neither amazing nor bad in any way, just pleasant. It is a phenomena similar to DOOM’s Born Like This, an issue that hangs over songs like ‘A Thought’ here like it did ‘Gazzillion Ear’ on DOOM’s LP. Nothing is to the point where it’s torturous or even unpleasant to listen to, but rather just too easy to relegate to background music. Fear not, intrepid listeners, for the pieces here are either interesting enough to make you pay attention or innocuous enough to let you forget they really happened, a mercy given the brevity of the middle of the disc. Ah, catharsis how you treat us well here. Yes, both the opener and the closer say more than I could ever hope to type about this offering. ‘An Admission’ stands out, not only thanks to the prog length of 10’05” but thanks to its sheer epic builds, as the point where Dreamend finally find their inner weirdo able to roam freely. Each manic snare rattle and banjo ostinato is as welcome and hoped for as the clever use of effects, electric guitar, and a slew of other sounds and toys that close the album on a true apex. Of course, it’s one song but a great example of what this band is capable of crafting. My inner desire for slight maximalism within this band’s songwriting and lyric choice can be ignored enough to enjoy this album as a whole and seriously love at least four of five of the songs here. Photobucket