Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Dump - Phantom Perspective

(Hi-Ball, 1997)

A while back, I worked in a factory assembling copper and fiberoptic cables. Since we sat at benches cutting, stripping, crimping, cooking, and polishing all day, music (and Howard Stern) was the preferred method of staving off boredom, and the employees regularly traded records with each other. That was where, thanks to my geeked-out coworkers, I learned that I needed to spend many hundreds of dollars on the likes of Faust, Tony Conrad, Lamonte Young, Amon Duul, and Opal. Hotcha! Progressive! Anyway, Dump – James McNew from Yo La Tengo gone solo – was another one I first heard at the factory, when a guy named Mike loaned me That Skinny Motherfucker With the High Voice, an album of narcoticized, faintly YLT-esque Prince covers that is done SO DOGGONE WELL that it never even hints at what SHOULD be gimmickry or smirkiness. Pretty wonderful music. With the factory days fading into distant memory, that one remains an eternal favorite with good reason, but further investigations into the work of Dump have turned out to be less entertaining, because McNew seems prone to half-finished ideas and aimless noodling when recording his own material, as on this limited single. “Phantom Perspective,” for example, all looped jungle beats and hypnotic structure, sounds like a Flying Saucer Attack throwaway, pleasant and forgettable. And even if there’s the beginning of a decent song on this version of the Alpaca Brothers’ “The Lie,” with its winning vocal melody and simple/catchy, distorted rhythm guitar, it’s hard not to wish that the song had been performed by a full band – the lack of drums is a shame – instead of in what’s effectively demo form. So while none of this is TERRIBLE as far as self-indulgent solo experiments go (in terms of quality relative to the artist’s main body of work, think a notch below McCartney II), beyond the hugely enjoyable Skinny Motherfucker don’t expect anything too outstanding from the Dump discography. I doubt I’d lose any sleep if I failed to hear more of these records.

1 comment:

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