October 28, 2004

Styrofoam "Nothing's Lost"

Nothing's Lost is the third album by Belgian electronica composer Arne van Petegem, better known as Styrofoam. A staple of the German scene (based around influential label Morr Music), Styrofoam's sound is a gentle atmosphere pulsed by a soft undercurrent of electronic beats and various electronic sounds. For this record, he's enlisted the help of several notable musicians, including members of American Analog Set, The Notwist, Lali Puni and Death Cab For Cutie/The Postal Service. Considering the help he has, it's no surprise, then, that Nothing's Lost is an interesting mesh of both electronica and more traditional rock influences.

Styrofoam's stylistic blend is nowhere near as awkward as that description might lead you to believe. After all, Ben Gibbard impressed and surprised a lot of people with his new project The Postal Service. Indeed, "Couches in Alleys" sounds very much like a continuation of the ideas found on Give Up, and this song finds Gibbard in particularly rare form. His naturally sad lyrics play well against Styrofoam's gentle, heartbreaking beat, and it's quite clear that Gibbard is a man who can tackle any style with great aplomb. Though it would not be unsurprising that Gibbard's track would serve as the album's focal point, that doesn't mean that the rest of the album pales in comparison, nor would such attention serve justice to Styrofoam's music, because "Couches in Alleys" is not the best song on Nothing's Lost

"Inspired" is perhaps the best adjective to describe Styrofoam's selection of guest vocalists. Lali Puna's Valerie Trebeljahr's detatched singing on "Misguided" is a must-hear, and the rap of Anticon's Alias adds a certain depth that most electronical lacks. "Anything" follows up on that initial blast of boy/girl vocal exchange; Das Pop's Bent van Loy's lead vocals are rough and are nicely accompanied by the song's beat and the utterly heavenly vocals of Pitchturner's Miki make the song even dreamier. Perhaps the best moment would be "Front to Back," which features the vocals of American Analog Set's Andrew Kenny. He sings with a very lush croon and he sounds quite at home with Styrofoam's gentle, soft world.

Indeed, Nothing's Lost is an invitation to a sensual, dreamy world of sound; it's a record full of meaningful moments and quiet reflection and gentle yet heart-poundingly soft rhythms, sure to set your slow-dancing emo heart on fire. A gentle pleasure, this record--so gentle, in fact, it made me forget the fact that I generally can't stand the music of Ben Gibbard.

--Joseph Kyle

Label Website: http://www.morrmusic.com

1 comment:

jessmc said...

lyris for front to back?!?!?!