Pinback

Some Voices (Tree Records)

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Pinback's eponymous 1999 debut found two ex-members of Heavy Vegetable and Three Mile Pilot dicking around with a four-track, making studiously and intentionally low-fidelity recordings and playing cut-and-paste with the results. Some Voices, the group's new four-song EP, is heavy on the noise gates, looping software, and ProTools wizardry, which occasionally leaves the flimsy tunes in the dust. The engaging title track mimics elements of hip-hop, cycling funky bass phrases atop a repetitive, rudimentary keyboard refrain. Voices are similarly manipulated, with trimmed, chopped, and perfectly placed doot-doots and la-las. On "Manchuria" thick electric piano chords dominate, along with multitracked vocals and handclaps, but there's no sense of cohesion, only of painstaking studio postmanipulation. "June" is more successful, impressively joining violin, piano, and a deadened drum kit to form a soft bed for more-pleasantly treated singing. Some Voices retains the down-in-the-basement feel of its predecessor, yet this time around the results are not as seamlessly organic. Though this is music recorded at home on primitive equipment, the subsequent digital doctoring adds depth but diminishes immediacy and intimacy. Without any of the breathtakingly saccharine moments offered by the full-length, Pinback demonstrates that the neat trick of throwing snippets of sound in the air, watching them fall to earth, and labeling the resulting piles "songs," is not enough. It often helps to write an actual song.

 
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