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Arkitekchur - Should or The Drawing Boarded Colour Target Future Theater Wars

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Artist: Arkitekchur

Album: Should or The Drawing Boarded Colour Target Future Theater Wars

Label: tbtmo

Review date: Nov. 11, 2003

In super-repetitive, or (for want of a better word) minimalist music, form is very important. Deciding when to make your short ugly screeching sound change into an ugly screeching drone is crucial. Another crucial decision is how long said transformation should take, because if it happens too quickly or too slowly, the desired effect is irretrievably lost. You have to employ lots of screechy sounds, of course, to hold hostage the listener’s attention. Not to say that there ought to be rules about how to ‘do’ this sort of thing – only that if you’re making long pieces that employ minimal melodic and rhythmic material as well as extreme repetition, it helps to dispel boredom.

Sadly, even though the first moments of Should or The Drawing Boarded Colour Target Future Theater Wars, by Brooklyn-based Arkitekchur promise a unique sound world of wide-eyed wonder, it never arrives. When a scratchy voice from a CNN remote broadcast interrupts the exceedingly bland chiming guitar figure that fills most of the first track, you realize that you’ve been waiting for 13 full minutes for the damn song to start. And it’s already over. But hey, it would have made a great intro to a Mogwai record.

At times, Should or The Drawing Boarded Colour Target Future Theater Wars presents itself as a block of seemingly homogenous yet subtly varied textures – the auditory equivalent of a Rothko canvas. Careful listening allows the tiniest gestures to jump out. In the 20-minute “how to pray using the mysteries of light theme”, ringing tones hover in and out of the foreground like storm clouds that threaten rain but never deliver, which would be fine if the clouds seemed particularly ominous, but these clouds are about as threatening as a light summer sprinkle. Even a bit of drums here and there can’t enliven the proceedings, mostly because they don’t do anything. They simply announce their presence, then drift back into the mud. Ungodly noise makes an appearance, in the form of TV static at the end of “symbol/language > discourse”, and disappears as quickly as it arrived. There might well be subtlety beneath the trite anti-war statements and post-MBV delay pedal-isms, but without anything to grab the listener (a strong sense of form, noise so jarring that it can’t be ignored, visceral experience of any kind), the piece remains as arresting as a really big, blank canvas with a bit of dirt on it.

Even though it doesn’t work nearly as well as the things it evokes (Rhys Chatham, Trevor Wisheart, an early Neu rehearsal tape being heard from the opposite side of an enormous factory floor), there are moments of real brilliance that are difficult to dismiss. For a moment in “how to pray”, the guitars start shimmering and bouncing off the walls as if they were about to break the confines of their own repetition. The whole mix swells, bursting with the promise of release. Then it wanders off somewhere else, and with it goes any potential engagement with the listener. Should or The Drawing Boarded Colour Target Future Theater Wars is ultimately a dull, compromised mishmash of a record that can’t decide whether it wants to appropriate the rigid formalism of early minimalism or the exploratory sprawl of a laptop jam session. If Arkitekchur had gone all the way out in either direction, it might have been as thrillingly vital as “Two Gongs” or “Hallogallo”. Instead, it’s a rather boring affair.

By Dave Morris

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