Library Tapes: Alone in the Bright Lights of a Shattered Life

Blurry, achromatic photos of electrical transformers and power lines; an album title Alone in the Bright Lights of a Shattered Life; band personnel identified as by first name (David and Per) only; instrumentation that includes field recordings, computer, and 'screwdriver'; song titles like “Cold Leaves for the Violent Ground”; sombre, atmospheric melodies etched by ghostly pianos, pensive acoustic guitar picking, and streams of electric six-string grandeur.

No, it's not the latest Godspeed You! Black Emperor release though it certainly sounds like it could be, the major difference being Library Tapes' preference for succinct vignettes in place of Godspeed's grandiose epics (though, admittedly, the seven pieces comprising Library Tapes' album function as sections of a larger whole). Luckily for Library Tapes, the field isn't so overcrowded (yet) that there isn't room for the Swedish duo's satisfying, thirty-three minute Resonant debut, recorded during three wintry days in November 2004.

More specifically, in “Broken Piano Pt.2,” a mournful tune rises from the ashes of a decaying piano while a second player drags a stick across its wire innards for counterpoint; key danglings and scuffles add ambiance to the sombre portent of “... In a Safe Place ... Somewhere Near Your Heart ...” before a smothering fuzzy wave rises to banish its piano theme into oblivion; in “Cold Leaves for the Violent Ground,” guitar haze merges with pensive, Satie-like piano themes while chiming guitar notes temper the incinerating drama of “The Scratches on the Window in the Doors of Each Cell”; the nearly ten-minute title track unfurls funereally, eventually reaching a peaceful resolution. Fans of Constellation and Alien8 in particular will find Alone in the Bright Lights of a Shattered Life a worthwhile addition to their collections.

September 2005