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Pavement - Slanted and Enchanted: Luxe and Reduxe

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Artist: Pavement

Album: Slanted and Enchanted: Luxe and Reduxe

Label: Matador

Review date: Nov. 7, 2002

Exact Wording of Threat: Pavement

Slanted & Enchanted can harken back to specific memories for nearly any listener. It was an eye-opener in 1991 (to say the least) and ten years later it's still tough to blink through. The remastering treatment is nice, but incidental. Mastery only mattered to Pavement when they were undone by Nigel Goodrich in 1999. Rather, the reinsertion of such a monumental masterpiece is what brings us here, or perhaps it's why we never left.

As graceful and blissed out as The Velvet Underground’s noiser moments with that particular smell of the loving and obsessive space contained by vinyl and fanzine crowded college radio stations, pancake stacks and dusty shelves of homemade 7”s, band names like the Sonic Youth, Swell Maps, the Fall, the Dead C, The United States of America…

Here now, are two CDs, 48 tracks, and 23 unreleased recordings. The complete Slanted recording sessions along with the subsequent Watery, Domestic EP, B-sides, compilation tracks, outtakes, two Peel sessions and a complete live concert, a 58-page booklet with pictures and text by overlords Gerard Cosloy, Chris Lombardi, and Dan Koretzki. Questions regarding Pavement's signing to Matador are finally answered ("They had a fax machine").

Amateurs will be wowed, and the obsessed-with scoff, having already owned much/most of this thanks to Slay Tracks (for the live stuff) and Stuff up the Cracks (for the BBC sessions). Revelations are revealed as "Wounded Kite at :17" unmasks its true origins as another eye-rolling Spiral Stairs penned tune. An alternatively loud version of "Here" takes on a whole new meaning, and a live version of it reinforces its original, whatever it may have been. Those hearing the BBC tapes for the first time may cry out in shock that "Kentucky Coctail" didn't make the Watery, Domestic cut. Early live songs lack the precision or psychedelic leanings of mid-to-late 90s performances, but they make up for it with a youthful looseness that borders on punk rock.

At first it seems unfortunate that a record such as this be the given such (de)luxe treatment (Matador has also released a long-awaited two-DVD Pavement retrospective featuring all their music videos, with separate audio commentaries from the band and each of the directors, along with a 60-minute documentary on the band directed by Lance Bangs, plus two live concerts, one with switchable camera angles, and hidden features ((though I’ve only found one so far)).) With a song as prophetic and schizophrenic as “Two States”, Slanted & Enchanted seems more likely to be mistaken for something archaic and perhaps religious in content, doomed to be lost, forgotten and then found again. Slanted and Enchanted could in fact be Stockton’s own dead-sea scroll, a mysterious record from a mysterious time.

And yet, only with this double-CD re-issue is one able to see Pavement at their best, at their most untouched, featuring the first appearances of Mark Ibold and Bob Nastonovich re-mastered ever so slightly, "So Stark (You're A Skyscraper)" with Malkmus telling us that “This is a life / and it's flat / and it's six / and it's eight times”. Non-sequiturs of totemic proportions, rolled off the tongue like an athletic parapraxis. One can only hope that more solid gems will be made widespread if Matador chooses to release a b-sides collection as well.

By Daniel Dineen

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