Autodidact – Devotional Hymns for the Women of Anu

autodidact_090407_devotiona1It’s rare that I absolutely love and absolutely despise tracks on the same album. Devotional Hymns… has its moments of brilliance, but the third track (“Slow Morning Eyes On Fire”) nearly made me give up on the CD entirely. It’s nearly 13 minutes of filler with incredibly trite spoken word layered in – and the worst part is, it’s not even amusing enough to quote! I’m pretty sure the words ‘death’ and ‘dead’ appear about a dozen times, but I’m sure as hell not going back and counting. I can’t get through the damn thing. The next track, “A Sonata for Lillian Reardon” is also a throwaway track, incorporating vocals and background noise to form a muddled whole that’s neither impressive nor expressive. Moving on, though, “Cry Me a River, Elizabeth Nietzsche” is a post-rock fuzzed-out bass-heavy doom track that changes directions and builds on itself without climaxing or coming to a definite conclusion. Instead of being off-putting, however, the ambiguous ending is in itself effective and more appropriate to form than an unsatisfying pat ending so often found at the end of a track. Another highlight is “SS fuck puppets of the She-Wolf Ilsa” (I’m still trying to decide whether these track titles annoy me or impress me), a plodding collage of feedback notable for its persistent yet gravid march toward its linear end. Most of the tracks on Devotional Hymns… are linear in that instead of following the literary formula of exposition-rising action-climax-falling action-denouement, the songs follow a straight path without reaching a conclusion. To be more concrete, it’s like being thrown suddenly into a room where a concert has already begun but not all instruments have made their musical entrance. There’s no real preparation or greeting. One must take in what’s already extant and experience the layers as they appear. Instead of truly ending, the songs just trail off, as if the musicians merely abandoned their instruments. It’s a refreshing take on compositional structure, usually so rooted in conventionality. Perhaps it’s autodidacticism in action. However, with that fresh ‘unschooled’ take come unfortunate mistakes. First, they need to eliminate all vocals unless done wordlessly for effect. Nobody needs the lyrical meanderings of the desperately (but lyrically impaired) earnest guy experiencing existential crisis. Second, find a real artist to do the artwork. Seriously. Lastly… did I mention ‘take out the bad lyrics’? That’s the biggest issue here. Go forth and fix these errors, Autodidact. Then I may have something I can conclusively and concisely describe as good instead of wasting words explaining what’s not. -Christine Lett


~ by martyworm on January 3, 2009.

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