January 07, 2005

The Dead Texan "The Dead Texan"

Hnumor in music is nothing new, but what of The Dead Texan? Funny titles like “The Six Million Dollar Sandwich” and “When I see Scissors I Can’t Help but Think of You” might lead you to believe that you were about to embark on a fun, funny musical journey. Two obvious facts about the Dead Texan will quickly quell such beliefs: one, the record is on the well-respected experimental label Kranky; two, The Dead Texan is the product of Adam Wiltzie, formerly of Stars of the Lid, a band whose releases are quite austere.It should come as no surprise that this music is also the result of collaboration, as the music accompanied eight short experimental films, all created by European cinematographer Christina Vantzos, all of which can be found on the DVD which came with the album. (and which didn’t come with my copy—dang!)

As one would expect from a record that consisted of such elements, The Dead Texan doesn’t illicit a laugh inasmuch as it soothes the soul. As Wiltzie says, The Dead Texan’s songs are “mini-symphonies.” Personally, they’re better off described as “teenage symphonies to Eno.” The music found here is soft, soothing and never dull. Ambient works such as the ones found here could easily become meandering, but The Dead Texan never bores, simply because understands the concept of brevity. None of these songs go on for too long; the only one that does, “A Chronicle of Early Failures,” is split into two separate tracks. This simple technique works wonders; it allows the listener to enjoy the nuances of each song, such as the subtle use of vocals, gentle piano and guitar—not to mention the seaside-like soothing washes of keyboard.

The Dead Texan is an excellent debut record from a wonderfully creative mind. Whether or not there will be any more Dead Texan records remains to be seen, but Wiltzie has made a record that’s enjoyable and intelligent--even if the humor is only on a superficial level--one that’s suitable for your long winter naps.
--Joseph Kyle

Label Website: http://www.kranky.net

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