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Dan Friel, "Ghost Town"

cover image The first solo full-length from Parts & Labor singer Dan Friel is filled with electronic pop instrumentals built around distorted beats and blistering melodies. Concise and catchy, it is hard not to get swept away by the enthusiasm and energy flowing from these boisterous tracks.



Awash in effects pedals, oscillator squeals and whining modulations compete for attention over punchy beats. These elements frequently pull against each other to antagonistic effect but their struggles are mediated by syrupy melodies that resolve the conflict peacefully and pleasantly. While the rhythms and some of the supporting electronics may be abrasive, it's Friel's pop instincts that ultimately guide these songs. Unlike a lot of other noise or beat-driven music, he never belabors the point ad infinitum.

Friel proves himself a master of the craft on the title track that opens the album like a switchboard anthem. "One Legged Cowboy" uses a pretty basic blip as its foundation but is carried along by its whirring accompaniment. "Appliances," appropriately enough, might be an interpretation of a washing machine's cycle, whereas "Buzzards" is like a video game soundtrack with its 8-bit leads and sweeping rhythm. Because the songs essentially have pop structures, I occasionally expected a voice, though not necessarily lyrics, to enter the mix for a brief change of pace, but that never happened. Even so, there's enough going on that these songs never overstay their welcome.

Friel's ability to make pop candy out of caustic components is what makes his music so enjoyable. While Ghost Town has only eight tracks and runs just shy of half an hour, Friel packs enough fresh ideas into each song to make this album a bewildering head rush.



The Eye: Video of the Day


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Review of the Day

AA23 opened the night, and I thought they had some really, REALLY nice Moments. But things did seem a bit sloppy and loose at points—especially with the excessive scratching (which when ON - was wonderful. But less is more when it comes to scratching I think). The set was much more active than when I saw them before—they opened for Sol Invictus of all people—and to be honest, I like the minimal, more bleepy side a bit more. I guess comparisons could be made to someone like Ultra Red when I talk of the more "minimal? side. But whatever, it was good, and my ears Were quite happy!
Next was Instagon—continuing onstage with members of AA23, which added a nice flow to the evening. For those who do not know, Instagon is an Orange County project that started some years ago as an excuse of sorts to assault people with A LOT of noise and chaos, with a constantly changing lineup. Since then, Lob (the fellow behind Instagon) has calmed things down a little and seems to have moved things in a more musical "jam session" like direction. This time around Instagon only consisted of a sax player, bassist, and drummer. I liked moments of the set, though it was very repetitive and sleepy. The drums were a tad bit too simple and conventional for my mood. Perhaps someday they will do something without a drummer - especially with the nice bass and sax they have had the last few times I have seen them. Last night's performance was not the best, and certainly not the worst, I have seen from Instagon—just kinda "there."
Not Breathing flowed into Instagon the same way Instagon flowed into AA23, and then they just took things away. The set started with a ton of toy/speak-and-read type manipulation and layers of noise (reminding me a lot of the EAR Data Rape stuff. It wasn?t long before the beats came in, and wow! It was just flat out sick! I really wish more IDM/jungle fans were at the show, because the beats were out of control—yet so damn smooth. I guess the only real solid thing I can say is Not Breathing always put on a sick show, and this time around was one of the best times I have seen them (aside from a New Years show they played at and hated). Didge, fucked up electronic toys, tons of blips, weirded out melodies, washes of noise, odd-hypnotic beats, some cute Furbie mutant thing,? oh what a nice night!
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