Label: One Little Indian Release date: 01/03/10 Official MySpace The problem with lo-fi is when it transcends the bounds of what deems it necessary. While artists like Jandek, Woods, early of Montreal, and dozens of others had or have to make lower fidelity music thanks to technical limits (and budget constraints), the music of those who obviously know better or can have better is either stirring or frustrating. Wavves would be better if he didn’t rely on thick noise to cover shoddy songwriting, while, conversely, Phil Elvrum’s one man-one mic approach to officially released demos and even albums leads to a touching air of confiding. So what to do with Emit Bloch? He’s been touted heavily as some new savior of folk, praised for stirring lyrics and vocals, and been lauded critically and personally (Beth Orton is one big fan, and he got a 4.5 out of 5 elsewhere). However, on Dictaphones, Vol. 1 these things are all fucked up to nothingness, with the tape hiss and harsh sibilance detracting from everything. The songs are hardly unique overall, relying on almost hackneyed chord sequences and, at times, near tuneless harmonica that would make Jandek seem like an expert by comparison (at least his random tootings make sense with his soul shaking and sometimes shattering discography). The lyrics are another point of contention, often times dealing with the old stalwart – the nameless “you” that makes everything seem direct. And while the sixth song packs some syllabic contortions in the closing 45 seconds, it’s not enough to salvage an entire album of ramblings. The main issue is that this lo-fi seems forced, intrusive. His MySpace touts his weirdness and “avant garde” side, he says he only wants 100 friends so he’ll whittle down the list, he posts videos of him playing in bathtubs, and in summation he makes himself a character. So why take something seriously when it wants to be serious, but seems like a face for some farcical nothing? This isn’t a terrible album, it’s just a giant misstep and sounds so damn forced. Overall, this is just such an exceedingly “meh” album, so bland and mediocre to dull that it can only be a below average offering that rounds out to average. Let the hate begin. Photobucket