24 September 2010

This Invitation - sunless / ellipses, lapses, and collapses (2010, Distinct Mirror)

"This Invitation is an experimental duo based in Brooklyn, NY, comprised of Warren Ng and Casey Farnum that combines aspects of abstracted slowcore song structures with elements of minimalism, drone, free improvisation and noise." 

I discovered This Invitation in 2005 with their great debut album "Skin of Light". It took them five years to come back and their second full length is an impressive achievement. Impressive in all the senses of the term as it lasts a monumental 2 hours and 14 minutes. Even if they haven't changed their sensitivity and style, the final result is much more refined.

The usual suspects can be considered as a dream-list : Eleventh Dreamday, Early Day Miners, C-Clamp, Forty Nine Hudson, Player Piano, Six Parts Seven, Collections of Colonies of Bees, Scott Tuma, Sonora Pine, Duster, Red House Painters, The For Carnation, Zelienople or Ex-Chittle. I know it's just name-dropping but associate all these names in a single sentence made me realize they were all American.

The first track, "Burning Telegraph", a five minutes instrumental is magnificent, it reminds me of this cover of the Six Parts Seven song, "On marriage", Carissa's Wierd did, but transported in a large open landscape under a sky of moving clouds.  

"A Tangle Waltz" is a 12 minutes pure slowcore exploration with math-rock accents and a slow tension. The vocals are not far from those of C-Clamp and the melody is somewhere between Ex-Chittle and Forty Nine Hudson. "Under A Belly Of Stars" is an elliptical song as it ends where it started, after the process of an imaginary journey, describing an musical arc reminiscent of the type of explorations Eleventh Dream Day developed on their bast album, "Eight".

"As If My Eyes Were Open" is like a self-reflexive flow of thoughts, with profoundness and density, like looking at a summer landscape under heavy rain, from the window of a passing train. Listening to the instrumental "November In The Dust", it's difficult to realize that This Invitation comes from Brooklyn, because with this track you are clearly on a trip through a desert no man's land, with snow banks on sand.

On "My blindest hour", the melancholic intimate intensity rises and you regret the absence of drums which  would have added a welcome rupture to the beautiful urgency of the guitar. However it is a splendid track and it illustrates perfectly how languor is the best word to define, and best argument in order to defend the music of This Invitation.

And languor needs time to install, This Invitation is perfect for the last hours of the days, when you're tired, sitting on the sofa with a glass of wine. For this perspective, the instrumental "The Last Night Of Calm" is a perfect background music, melancholic but unable to move, sinking slowly into sleep, as the attention disintegrates.

"Plexus", the last track of the first CD is like ghost walking through the house at night, ancient memories dissolved into the air, like dust, barely perceptible perfumes of transient impressions.

A passing drone, like a descending clouds covering the town under fog, "The Transparent Sea" creates a translucent aura into which an unexpected propulsive softness finally blooms, dewdrops settling on the sleeves or frost crystals depositing on bare branches of trees. 

On the second CD, This Invitation gives much more place to instrumental climatic improvisations, "A ceaseless divide" is like crossing vast industrial zonings through cold winter weather. With "Collapsing air", horizon lines seem infinite, we feel like in the middle of nowhere, on an empty straight road.

Then things start to grow wrong with the noisy "Wires" similar to some post-rock sonic explorations of bands like Scenic or Paul Newman. Some respite on the delicate "Ellipses", and the contemplation from a solitary hill on "Unforeseen Clouds" in the morning.  Unfortunately the last two tracks fall in this kind of experimental semi-improvisations Zelienople did on a part of their discography but without the same degree of conviction.

I prefer much more the first volume of this record where, absolutely, "abstracted slowcore song structures" are used with finesse and talent for successful and inviting climatic explorations. The more improvised and instrumental second volume at the opposite fails to really seduce me so I'll probably forget this side of their expression.

The good point is that you feel so much more is left to be explored and opened for future developments on this first CD with 71 minutes of languorous tension. 

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