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Millions, "The Unanimous Night"

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Two sidelong tracks of low-tech miasma make up this cassette EP. While the individual sound elements are varied and potent, as a whole the compositions tend to drag in the middle. I'm sure that Millions didn't set out to be an example, but The Unanimous Night is typical of what happens when music gear is relied upon to generate mood music.

Peasant Magik

Call it speculation, but I'm pretty sure that Millions used Boss Loop Station RC-20XL to build most of this album. Developed for live sampling, this guitar pedal's ability to infinitely layer sounds makes it the tool of choice for the dronist. About as common as cows in Wisconsin, their strengths and limitations are built into countless cassettes and CDRs issued in the last decade or so. The problem with them is that once a suitable soundscape has been made, no element can be taken away without stopping the whole recording. In other words, Loop Station music is good for the build-up but ultimately becomes repetitious and inert.

Regardless of what Millions used to make The Unanimous Night, the music follows the same dynamic. Side two, "The Dreamed Man," begins with reversed guitar swells, easily constructed with the help of our friend the RC-20XL. After the loop is introduced, spurts of wobbly sub bass crawl into the mix along with high pitched insectiod buzzing. Good enough, but halfway through the tape that damn guitar loop is still playing. It's like having an unwanted acquaintance over for a séance.

The eponymously titled flip-side holds the attention a little better. Acidic distortion and discordant choral pads give it the feel of some incantation by ritualistic physicists. The atmosphere is suitably cosmic until a mid-game slump hits that piece too. Interstellar howl and hiss do have their charms, but the charm wears quickly.

What kills the atmosphere on both of the pieces is the persistence of  stale sound elements. Cheap, portable equipment has revolutionized the economics avant-garde music, but compositional sophistication hasn't always moved forward to compensate for the equipment's limitations. The Unanimous Night is by no means the worst example of this trend. I chose it to make a point because I'm intimately familiar with how music that sounds exactly like this is made.  Of course, the Loop Station or any other piece of equipment can't totally dictate aesthetics. The problem is that for music that trades on images of mystery, Millions is pretty easy to figure out.

Last Updated on Saturday, 11 April 2009 06:04  


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