This Is How It Is Lost (Emperor Jones)
The sparse artwork on the cover of Paul Newman's latest may look simple, but you have to study it to see its beauty. The Austin quartet's music is the same. The songs on This Is How It Is Lost float on the surface and dig into your ear. Breaking tradition of past albums by featuring vocals on almost every track, Lost nevertheless feels entirely instrumental, every song changing tempo just as it starts droning. Opener "Changing Faster" spirals cinematically, echoing all the "post-rock" bands that peppered the landscape in the early Nineties (Slint, Tortoise, etc.). "The Western Way" winds and curves around a twinkling guitar line, bouncy bass, and Edward Robert's wrenching, faraway voice. "Machine Is Not Broken, Sir" features a Sea and Cake-ish instrumental breakdown, all rhythmic thrashing and heart-attack drums. "Abouting, Alonely" is similar riffage and "Standing By" is purely emotive, like diving into a lake at night naked. "I Am Not Telling" is a dazzling cocktail that flames out before exploding into an assaulting drum/guitar blitzkrieg. For Paul Newman it's all about the buildup and the takedown, the crash and burn, and finally, redemption.
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