Stars of the Lid
The Ballasted Orchestra


3.5
great

Review

by FourSquare20 USER (11 Reviews)
December 22nd, 2010 | 14 replies


Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A sprawling 80 minutes of ambient music by Stars of the Lid. Need I say more?

Ambient music. Oh, what a divisive and controversial genre. While some find it to be captivating and enjoyable, others find it boring, a refuge for "talentless hacks" who couldn't play "real" music. I fall into the former camp, and Stars of the Lid is a great example as to why I do. Their floating, guitar-based drones are masterfully done, full of haunting beauty that seems to meander off into perpetuity. On The Ballasted Orchestra, Stars of the Lid (made up of Adam Wiltzie and Brian McBride) add in some other instruments to their minimally ambient aesthetic while still keeping it simple. Complex music this is not. If you're looking for an hour-and-a-half thrill ride, look elsewhere. This is pretty much the exact opposite, a comedown of epic proportions that asks you to daydream or even sleep. After all, Stars of the Lid is all about "your own personal cinema, located between your eye and eyelid".

The Ballasted Orchestra spans nearly 80 minutes, and while it is separated into tracks, the entire thing ebbs and flows like one big movement. Each piece segues into the next, allowing for a seamless ambient listen that encourages wandering thoughts and heavy eyelids. Whether it be the eerie drones of "***ed Up (3:57 AM)" or the blissful, slow-motion melodies of "Arch Song", Stars of the Lid knows it's stuff. There really isn't a bad track on the album, but some seem to overstay their welcome.

This is the one problem I have with The Ballasted Orchestra. Long, slow-developing songs don't bother me, but some of the pieces present unfurl a little bit too slow. This can cause the album to drag at times, with songs like "Taphead" never seeming to really get going, even for an ambient album. While I'm sure Stars of the Lid intended for these songs to represent dynamic peaks and valleys, some excess fat could've been trimmed. I'm not asking for too much to be cut off, just a tad to make the entire thing more palatable. This would make The Ballasted Orchestra easier to take in as a whole while still retaining its sprawling atmosphere.

Aside from that one complaint, there isn't too much wrong with this album. Though it does lack some of the refinement found in Stars of the Lid's later work (pun intended), it still packs some slight soundscapes that are relaxing and fluid. There's movement here, even if it doesn't seem (or sound) like it. Just let yourself move with this album, and I think you'll find that you'll enjoy the results.



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user ratings (58)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
FourSquare20
December 22nd 2010


320 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Just a quick write up. I don't feel like a ton of people have listened to this album.

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
December 22nd 2010


7026 Comments


Can't get enough of this duo. Will check this out next.

4strings
December 22nd 2010


27 Comments


Nice review man!!!!!!!!

Dryden
December 22nd 2010


12928 Comments


awesome

FourSquare20
December 23rd 2010


320 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

eh?

Photon
December 23rd 2010


1292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good record

FourSquare20
December 23rd 2010


320 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think Tired Sounds and Refinement are better than this.

ForeignFilm
September 28th 2012


129 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Artificial Pine Arch song is the best Sotl song. I sleep to that shit every night. However most of the rest the album just creeps me the fuck out when trying to sleep so I really don't like most of the album.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
November 15th 2012


23900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ooooooh I am really liking this. better than Avec Laudenum anyway.

Digging: RATKING - So It Goes

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
November 17th 2012


23900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh man this is toooooo good. right behind Refinement and Tired Sounds for me.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
November 5th 2013


23900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

god this is so underrated

Motiv3
May 16th 2014


8938 Comments


This is so good omg.

yep123
August 6th 2014


29 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

perfect

Digging: Body/Head - Coming Apart

Phlegm
August 6th 2014


5078 Comments


mint



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