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On!Air!Library! - On!Air!Library!

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Artist: On!Air!Library!

Album: On!Air!Library!

Label: Arena Rock

Review date: May. 26, 2004

It's long past time to start rhapsodizing about the cassette tape: its plastic sheath housing two flimsy, minature reels feeding each other; its steady motion like a hourglass; its fallability evident either in a pencil-repaired unravelling or a scotch-tape edit. There is something to be said about the sound, as well, made for cheap headphones or the treble-heavy paper speakers. It could make pop confection, hip-hop dirty and metal loud. There were quite a few genres that were propelled, even named by the medium itself: the mix-tape cuts of rap, the streching swoon of C-86.

On!Air!Library! should release a cassette tape. It's warbling, guitar-fried dreampop would sound great in the thin, cheap magnetic tang. Right from the jump, the opening track "Faultered Ego" lifts you into the O!A!L! ethos, all open vocals and planked distortion. A few songs later, the frantic, caustic "Bambalance" lopes with blown-speaker production. The final track, "Feb." is about five minutes too short. But the delightful groove it establishes remains after the tape hit the auto-stop. All three stand-out tracks feature the drumming of Interpol's Sam Fogarino.

There are three official members of On!Air!Library!: Philip Wann, and twins Claudia and Alley Deheza. The trio play somewhere between pop and experimental music, but their songs mostly land on one side or the other. "Spaghetti Western Superstar," the longest cut, is a slide-enabled, atmospheric piece, while "Bread” is a drinking song for shoegazers. "Fell To Earth" is probably their type of thing, a composition of backmasked whimsy and etherium.

The pedigree of On!Air!Library! seems to ensure their success. Born out of the Williamsburg enclave and nursed to the masses through consignment at the Other Music mecca, the trio soon had themselves an album with Brooklyn's own Arena Rock Recording Co. What this self-titled debut is, though, is two different albums (EPs, really): one of wavering delicacy, the other of focused riffage.

Or, say, two distinct sides of the same cassette.

By David Day

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