Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Trouble Books – Gathered Tones [MIE]

The lo-fi bedroom ambient pop maestros Trouble books are back to follow up last years ‘Endless Pool EP’ and their wonderful debut album ‘The United Colours Of Trouble Books’ with a full another full length on MIE. ‘Gathered Tones’ sees the group expand their sound a little and reach ever so slightly out of the house and into the unknown. The last two outings where so homely it was almost as if they recorded their lives while bumbling around the house and they just happened to sound like songs, found sounds and everyday lyrics brought beauty out of the mundane. This time they keep some of that edge but expand it and it’s as though they’re gazing into the stars via a telescope in the garden or attic, with melodic synths adding a cosmic edge.

If you’ve seen the homemade sci-fi epic by Christmas On Mars by The Flaming Lips you’ll know that everyday items can be transformed into other worldly spaceship fixtures or alien appendages, a child’s toy as a control panel, a vacuum cleaner as a futuristic gizmo. All they need is imagination and a little tinfoil. On ‘Gathered Tones’ Trouble Books do just that but for your ears, they build a homemade space station of sound! Then move in like it’s a second home.

The gentle warm tones of ‘Ascending Kidney’ usher in the album along with sweat vocals and spaced out sweeping synths that are balanced out with melodic strumming and field crackles. ‘Past The New Parking Deck’ bubbles like a lo-fi Postal Service with subtler drums and a cooler nonchalant air, its all space bleeps like the Jetson’s rocket car, sequenced bass tones and souring tremolo guitar tones before it transcends into a twinkling crescendo of arpeggiated synth lines. ‘From Colfax Place’ continues the theme of a second home in outer space. They combine the synths effortlessly with their found sound folk and guitars, some bands struggle and seem to strap them on clumsily bit Trouble Books ooze with restrained confidence when they unleash them.

‘Arms Full Of Lemons’ strips back the cosmic stylings with its gently plucked guitar outro that’s drenched in warm reverb with what sounds like a game of ping pong in the background. ‘Abandoned Monorail Station’ is on a similar tip too, putting orchestral swells deep in the background droning away under weary floating melodies.

Somehow ‘Tropical Islands, Germany’ almost sounds like it could be at home on Planet Mu, with its twisted synthesizer shimmers before it drops into baroque woodwind pop and a brooding breakdown that sounds like you’ve been jettisoned into space.

The wonderful ‘Sudden Loop’, takes a looping sample and floats it against acoustic guitars and melodica where it becomes a subtly psychedelic backdrop to Linda’s vocals. This looping sample technique is taken further with the ‘Dusk Accelerator’ into where woodwind gets twisted into twirling patterns before dropping into a slow atmospheric number that soon turns into introspective stargazing soundscapes. Things come to a close with ‘Houseplants’ where synths harmonise beautifully with the guitars again to create a lonely, laidback yet hopeful atmosphere.

‘Gathered Tones’ flows beautifully as a whole and adds another string to Trouble Books’ bow. The space age synths work beautifully with their ambient found sound pop songs. The album just keeps giving and opens up with each listen, the heartfelt melancholic stories get under your skin and the beautiful music subtly grows on you until you crave its shimmering homely sound and gentle homemade sonic space station melodies.

Order: http://miemusic.co.uk/GTLP.html

Download: Trouble Books - Past The New Parking Deck(Right Click Save As)


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