A. David Mackinnon The Past is a Foreign Country

Former FemBot A. David MacKinnon's The Past is a mechanical mixture. Its constituent parts are clearly distinguishable from one another and avoid blending to cohesion. All the songs are intelligent, well-played and often gorgeous models of genre splicing (Ethno-jazz, baroque, early gospel, piano lounge), but there are points at which they fall short of their aching potential. It could be the choice of certain instrument tones or even the ample room for huge, heavenly blasts from horns and strings, in many cases. That said, the band might not be trying to achieve the melodramatic heights of Sigur Rós; it could be a much simpler goal, one both obscured and augmented by the record's semi-academic air. Despite its structure-as-exercise style, "One Hundred Fires," for example, is a dazzling, wistful portrait of a sunny bike ride home through the park. Matched with a cityscape backdrop, this song, like many here, could light up the greens, yellows and blues of an otherwise grey cement palette. The Past is a Foreign Country effectively summons up the beauty from a vast and familiar banality. (Weewerk)