Published Feb 21, 2017Chicago's Zelienople has remained a compelling outfit for the last 15 years due to their ability to refract their moody aesthetic into both dimly lit chamber pop and more abstract experiments in equal measure. Meanwhile, Matt Christensen's solo output has tended towards sombre songwriting that combines the most interesting parts of Labradford, Tindersticks and the like.
For Longform Improv, he and frequent collaborator Eric Eleazer have limited both their instrumental palette and the range of tones and colours available. The result is five mid-length pieces culled from live essays on guitar, synthesizer and minimal percussion. At times awash in thick distortion, and others deliberate and spare, these experiments too often just miss out on turning corners into more fruitful space. There are some thoughtful passages, as in the third piece, that suggest a bridge that connects sections of a more epic work, but then that full work never materializes.
As such, the pieces mostly inhabit a middle ground that never reaches the density for critical mass nor trusts in silence enough to draw us into the machinery. (Independent)