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Languis - Untied

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Artist: Languis

Album: Untied

Label: Simballrec

Review date: Nov. 27, 2002

Knots of Sound

A fuller release than the sparse, but intricate Unithematic:, Untied is at times a sloppy, yet pristine mix of the distinct sounds Languis makes home. Composed of bleeps, blops, and acoustic knocks, Languis' music is frequently compared to "post-rock." If anything it's post-rock's Latin American cousin, but it breaks from the frequently stunted moods that post-rockers never seem to grow out of, plus it's not dependent on guitars.

Languis can be calm, cool, and collected, a little wild at times, and even sweetly romantic. It's a bad stereotype to say it's the Latin blood, but something is telling these guys to throw a few songs in for the girls and run from all out melancholy or Wagnerian builds of romantic joy. What's here instead is tightly composed beats that intertwine with texture, complemented by swoons of guitar, voice, and keyboards.

The guitars are drawn out drones that emerge and then fade slightly around the songs’ centers. In the audible buildings of Languis' world, the electronics make up the mass of the structure with the acoustics adding flair. If anything, this is more IDM than rock, but IDM with a pop sensibility that borrows from Terry Riley's keyboard workouts and a little 80’s formula of fluffy soft-rock romantic tones.

"Orange Grove," can't keep away from a lovely acoustic guitar that gently overlays a procession of distorted beats, which fades to a soundfield that invests itself in casio chimes, that leaps from a moog bass line, that returns to glitchy Latin percussion, that finds itself in the midst of a real drum kit, while a psychedelic blade runs its course up to the front before breaking with a gentlemen's flair to let another iteration of these elements play it's course.

You get the point: this shit is complex.

Such abuses of multitracking aren't difficult, but here it's not an excuse to throw some extra instruments over what would otherwise be a drab song. Languis design interconnecting segues that can be refashioned and put together in any such way. So built are these songs that they're audio paintings: each sound is a hue and when overlain they make a new color, drawing you further into the composition. On “Dishes,” strokes are comprised of pleasant feedback tones, a little conga, a background of chime-like electronics, and tones compressed to dulled knives of sounds. These tone paintings shift, never giving away their secrets while drawing focus to their central medium of moogs and keyboards.

All this said, I still prefer Unithematic’s aspersions of guitar, piano, and electronics. Untied is a little too much; a wall of sound that doesn’t allow you to ever fully see the wonderful things these guys are capable of. I know that Languis can accomplish great things, but here it sounds as if they threw everything into the mix at once. While that formula works when all you’re assembling are simple phrases, with these cats even the most thread-bare numbers are woven from inventive tapestries. It's a fine and compelling release, but Languis' strength comes in their ability to keep you on your toes, jumping from hummable melody to melody, and not by compressing all their sound into one dense cluster, thereby losing their identity.

By Andrew Jones

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