The EP's opening track, "Maybe I'll Tell
You in the Morning," starts in Harvey's usual hang-dog, broken-hearted style
-- with an acoustic guitar and lyrics that lament "Baby I'm here but I'm
already gone / And you're still hanging on." But as the track progresses
little things emerge from the usual strummed chords. Things like a bowed standup
bass and David Gilmore-flavored electric guitar echoes. Finally, after the singing
stops, there's two minutes of low-end, feedback-style synthesizer noises that
sound like interstellar mating calls heard under water.
The sonic undertow
fades right into "Straight-jackets," where Harvey mournfully sings "So
sorry love / I've been distracted / Been hiding from / All the straight-jackets"
over slow, haunting, echo-guitar and what he calls a "groove box," but
what we know as synth drums. This one ends with two minutes of strange, Morris
Code-like blips created using an electric guitar and a couple remote controls.
Bob Dylan never sounded quite like this.
"A lot of people won't
understand it," Harvey said across a shadowy table at Benson's hot new acoustic
showcase, Mick's. "You have to sit down and listen to it with headphones.
I wanted to release a piece of artwork, I guess. I wasn't thinking about it as
The result of his personal explorations in sound is an experimental
CD that will appeal both to fans of ambient bands like Mogwai and Radiohead as
well as indie-folkies into Elliott Smith and Wilco. Harvey has managed to create
an environmental recording that captures the emotional emptiness suffered after
breaking up with a long-time girlfriend. It's bleak, and at times, downright depressing,
but never boring.
Ironically, the CD's strongest moments occur after all
the buzzing sound effects have worn away. On the more-upbeat (though still sad)
7-minute-plus title track Harvey quietly bleeds tonal sounds beneath the strumming,
giving the effect of one long feedback howl. The slow-twang closer "Besos
y Abrazos" -- Spanish for "kisses and hugs" -- feels like a good
Red House Painters track, with Harvey's deadpan lyrics steeped in everyday observation
whose confessional honesty is tough to ignore.
wanted to release a piece of artwork, I guess. I wasn't thinking about it as an