Review Summary: Bite-sized chunks of ambient deliciousness.
I must admit that on reviewing The Dead Texan
, I have not experienced the visual half of this audio-visual project. To my mind, just as a book is said to be better than a film because it inspires your own imagination, music is the step beyond books. Not music with words but, as my old English teacher once described it, "proper music". I highly doubt that he was referring to ambient, in fact he probably approaches everything beyond the 19th century with extreme caution and a stern upper lip, but it's true that as a genre ambient music has always excelled in creating a powerful atmosphere, acting as a ground on which our imagination forms. So maybe I'm being naive here, but I'm perfectly content to confine myself to the audio alone. In my mind any visuals would ruin it.
Ruin what? Well, I know the term "ambient pop" has already been taken for a style entirely different, but it remains a fitting description. The Dead Texan
contains music deemed "too aggressive" for Stars of the Lid
. Adam Wiltzie has created 11 short (by Stars of the Lid
terms) ambient pieces, venturing out into a new world of vocal sampling and keeping things (again, by comparison) in double time. This is not to say that you should expect anything truly drastic: The Dead Texan
greets us with the familiar mixture of gentle piano chords and smooth drone. It's just that, in many ways, this could be described as ambient-to-go. It's complete with all you expect and, while the cut in running time takes with it much of the opportunity to fully immerse yourself, trumps its flaws by being immediately accessible.
Now this is not to say that The Dead Texan
noticeably lacks depth, in fact as far as bite-sized ambient offerings go it has rather a lot. The gloomy, doting echo of "the sun cannot last" towards the end of The Struggle
, for instance, sees this pairing of drone and soft vocals reaching a level of pure, downtrodden beauty. Likewise, Aegina Airlines
's electronic unfurling behind the bloated piano manages to be utterly mesmerising, yet in under 3 minutes. How you could hope to match that with film is beyond me.
The Dead Texan
is by no means perfect, and it's immediately clear that a few of the tracks don't quite live up to the most memorable segments. However, what we have here is a great album, full of Wiltzie's flair and talent as a composer, which throws all pretense to the wind in order to supply some fantastically captivating ambient music, without the hassle of having to break into it.