Abandoned Houses - Untitled Spirals
(Rok Lok 2013)
Delayed gratification may not seem like a term that anyone would associate with pleasure, but in the realm of music, especially lo-fi music, the two terms just might be synonymous. You'll listen to a tape for the first time in the car like I did this afternoon, and one or two verses, maybe a chorus, will really resonate with you. And the trouble is that afterward, you can't even remember how that line goes, or even if it exists at all. Songs seem to exist in ideal form in our minds. They may sound great as we listen but they are made perfect as we forget them. And on the way home from school today, this tape was perfect to me, and I keep coming back to it, searching for the sacred moment of warmth that overtook me while adrift in the passenger's seat. That constant search is what makes an album pleasurable, though. I enjoy prolonging sleep, preferring to spend as long as I can in the divide between consciousness and dreams before giving in to slumber. Similarly, it is in the struggle to find perfection in the music of others that I find the true enjoyment of an album. Each note and verse is scoured over, as if I were studying a text in another language, and like any true scholar, I begin to appreciate how the song's nuances comprise its whole.
Anyhow, pretensions aside, this album is really great. I compare a lot of music to Lou Barlow's work, but Abandoned Houses' Untitled Houses sounds almost exactly like the acoustic b-sides available as bonus tracks on Sebadoh albums. Higher notes peel off of the fruit of constantly throbbing bass, and whispered vocals seem like an after thought. The lyrics are mantras supplemented by scattered thoughts, yet everything about the EP seems so complete. Things really fall together on track 3, a cover of Blink-182's "What's My Age Again?". I hadn't heard the original before, but the interplay between sparsity and intensity is perfectly executed as pluckings melt into chords.