The BlackoutAlbum |
Startlingly accurate reimagining of vintage post-punk sounds.
Between his time fronting space-drone merchants Eternal Tapestry and a long-running stint as guitarist in the ever-shifting experimental collective Jackie-O Motherfucker, one would think Nick Bindeman had enough creative outlets, but the Portland, Oregon polymath also records solo material under the project name Tunnels. The Blackout, Tunnels' first release on the Thrill Jockey label, not only doesn't sound much like Bindeman's earlier releases under the name (which were mostly formless synth explorations), it's a near-total departure from anything he's ever recorded. This time around, Tunnels' sonic touchstone is the doomy/noisy end of post-punk, from the grinding anomie of Suicide and Throbbing Gristle to the brighter-but-still-gloomy attempts at dance music of the second-tier Factory Records bands (Crispy Ambulance, early Section 25, etc.). It's a startlingly accurate evocation of this musical period, made all the more impressive by the way Bindeman constructs his songs out of familiar tropes -- Peter Hook-style foregrounded bass lines, vocals delivered in a portentous near-whisper a la Thomas Leer's classic "Private Plane," staticy staccato rhythm boxes, wibbly-wobbly theremin-like sounds, diving-airplane guitar drones -- without ripping off any artists in particular. Even when he does make a specific reference to an old song -- the start of "Red Roads" sounds like he crossbred the openings of The Cure's "The Walk" and A Flock of Seagulls' "Wishing (If I Had A Photograph of You)" -- the results stand on their own.