The Austin Chronicle

Record Reviews

Reviewed by Michael Chamy, January 19, 2001, Music

Aix Em Klemm


The Pilot Ships

The Limits of Painting and Poetry (BlueSanct)

Before splintering off to Chicago a couple of years ago, Stars of the Lid turned lots of local heads toward the floor, regularly conjuring a druggy, somnolent hum-from-the-ether at the Electric Lounge and other supine-friendly establishments. Liddites Adam Wiltzie and Brian McBride rear their floaty heads again on this tantalizing pair of side dishes, Wiltzie's Aix Em Klemm (with Bobby Donne of Labradford) and McBride's Pilot Ships (with Michael and Christopher Linnen of Monroe Mustang). Aix Em Klemm, recorded last spring at Wiltzie's Austin studio, leans heavily on the warm, resonant organ drones central to the Labradford sound. Wiltzie's distant, treated vocals evoke the same blissfully numbing mood as that band's great early works, and Donne's bottom-barrel bass gives the music a rhythmic conduit. Lending the album a certain sense of direction is a percolating ebb and flow that remains constant even as the ingredients shift from whale-song organ hums to subtle whispers and jittery digital clicking sounds. The second release from the Pilot Ships speaks in the same delicate tones, though the means of expression are more diverse. Eno-esque piano snippets meet sparse textural sound collages meet gorgeous honey-soaked vocals by Cheree Jetton (Chicago's Bees Are Black) meet sub-Mustang-speed funereal dirges by the Linnens. The scenery shifts are at once seamless and jarring, like gliding from one chapter of a novel to the next, giving the album a certain cinematic quality. Fittingly, part of the album appears on the score of the anticipated Texan-helmed independent film George Washington. In a perfect world, these are the musics that would seep out of the FM dial, filed under easy listening.

(Both) ***.5

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