February 04, 2004

Stellarscope "Fingerpaint the Colour of Sound"

A few weeks ago, I witnessed a pathetic display of maturity in the name of being 'hip.' On one of the mailing lists I subscribe to, some wiseacre decided to take a few potshots at another band, simply because he didn't think that band had anything original. It was a really sad display; I stopped following the argument after about email number thirty--and the argument continued for another hundred or so emails. Watching hipsters argue amongst themselves is a funny experience; though they try to sound as intelligent as possible, it often takes about one or two emails for the gloves to come off, and the maturity level usually disappears shortly thereafter.

The crux of the argument was this: What good are bands who simply imitate every style they hear? Well, the answer's not particularly interesting, because it's simple: who cares? I'm going to repeat that, because it's a most important point: Who cares??? See, the thing is, if all you can do is listen to a band and dismiss them for sounding too (insert genre or musical style here), then are you really listening? Why are you wasting your time even listening to music? Do you not understand that every band borrows things from others, and that the best bands aren't the ones that simply make utterly original music--they're also the ones that inspire others to making music? Of course, there's something to be said about bands ripping off other bands, but that's not the issue here.

I mention this here, because it's an issue that's been raised with bands like Stellarscope. See, they're a shoegazer-influenced band, and they make no secret about it. Listening to Fingerpaint the Colour of Sound is like a time machine to the early 1990s, and that's not a bad thing. I mean, I could see these guys fitting in nicely with bands like Pale Saints, Lush, Chapterhouse, Ride, Adorable or Bleach, and I really don't care, because I happen to like that particular kind of music. I like the idea of hearing a male version of Lush (as on "Something Delicious") or a more modern Pale Saints (as heard on "Cryogenic Sleep"). But do I think they're simply digging up these bands and making their entire career on them? No, I don't, because they aren't. After all, music is made by people who enjoy music, who enjoy other bands, and if a band happens to throw in a shimmery guitar part that reminds them of their faves, then more power to 'em.

Are they imitators? Are they original? It's really a matter of taste, but I really don't think that the house of Rock and Roll has been built on complete and thorough originality. Personally, for every imitation I hear on Fingerpaint the Colour of Sound, I also hear some original ideas, such as the lovely "Tomorrow Is Now" and the shimmering "Let Me Feel..." simply cannot be beat. Imitiation may not be something that you can base a longstanding career on, and I think that after a period of time and growth, Stellarscope will refine their sound into one that's all their own. Still, this is a really nice record, and I've enjoyed it.

--Joseph Kyle

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