In my review of La Ville’s first project The Underground, I noted the clear and obvious influence of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s F#A#oo, this time around La Ville seems less interesting in taking influence from the music, and more so from the idea.
Life/Death is a record that desperately tries to avoid categorization, songs rarely maintain the same structure at the end that they have the beginning, there is a clear and intended means of spastic, spontaneous creation, but the unfortunate thing lies in the phrases of music and not the whole image.
Because each song – ranging between 2 to 10 minutes long has at least 3 musical ideas within it, the ideas are either never seem full fleshed out, or are dragged on so incredibly long they become like a loop. What would be a novel idea for a track – a homemade guitar twangling loosely – is repeated so much and through out so many of these musical phrases that I began to care less about the concept of a homemade guitar and more about the fact the guitar didn’t sound very good.
My biggest gripe with this album – Deep Quadrant 90 – which is simply Tolling Bells from their debut album, with subtle changes and slightly more refined production. It is not, however, a new song. Compared to the twangly, guitar driven post-folk medley’s of the other tracks, and because of its incredible length, the song feels more fit for a B-sides than the official release.
The album hits strides of greatness – I mentioned earlier the novelty of the homemade guitar, as well as the use of reversed bass notes as a kind of droning string sound, bring atmosphere and emotion to songs that would other wise feel lifeless. Small touches of panning come into play during a few songs and make for a listening experience more fully immersive.
Given the nature of the albums I review, I barely mention production quality, but there is something to be said here. La Ville seems to have never touched an equalizer in their life. Songs can range from so quiet they are nigh indistinguishable to so loud I had to remove my earphones completely from fear of hearing damage. And not once did I change the actual volume of my computer.
What disappoints me most about this album, is that there is a clear passion for the ideas and concepts behind it. The homemade instruments, the use of sampling, the reversed bass, but it never seems to come together in a way that is satisfying or resolving, instead we are given an album that almost serves as a parody of itself, and its creator.