Dusted Reviews

Delicate AWOL - Heart Drops from the Great Space

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Delicate AWOL

Album: Heart Drops from the Great Space

Label: Fire

Review date: Jan. 5, 2003

Narcotic Haze

On Heart Drops from the Great Space, Delicate AWOL exercise a determined eclecticism while nonetheless maintaining a static “downer” emotional consistency. The opening track, "Here Come the Armed Guards," spends its five minutes maneuvering through danceable rhythms, a funk bass groove, and burbling, chiming keyboards. Bits of it remind me of 80s UK bands like Quando Quango and Hula, mixing a sort of semi-dark funk with an experimental edge, but Delicate AWOL aren't nearly as experimental.

"Time and Motion Studies Deep Underground" sounds like Stereolab at a slow pace. The drums remain fairly direct and simple amidst the delicate chiming and pleasantly bland vocal harmonies. Beginning with some interesting radio-tuning-like static sounds, "The Rolling Year" then fades those noises away to make room for a bass-drum semi-funk rhythm with glossy guitar and horns interjecting here and there. Midway through, a welcome increase in energy arrives as the rhythm section drives the guitar to a heavier intensity that's appealing, though the horn seems somewhat random and perhaps a little distracting.

As mentioned, this album is certainly eclectic. For example, harmonica, bells, and ocean-surf gongs make an appearance in "That Terminal's Down," while the other songs utilize horns, a variety of keyboard sounds and a wide range of stylistic decisions. Although the eclecticism puts the album in danger of feeling like a collection of experiments rather than a cohesive set of songs, the band manages to make it all hang together thanks to a uniform sleepiness. With the generally slow-moving rhythms and rainy-day feel of the songs, the dreaminess of the vocals and primarily mellow instrumentation combine to an almost narcotic effect.

Unfortunately, this downer dynamic makes the album a bit soporific, such as on the title track, a very slow song pulling together a minor-key atmosphere of hazy vocals, brass, and strummed guitars. "For the Afternoon" is more up-tempo, but the jazziness of the proceedings doesn't manage to get past the dinner-music feel to become engaging.

The band does dismiss uniformity for "Chance Thought at Flannel Port," certainly one of the strongest songs. It surfaces itself above the others with an attractive vocal harmony and a memorable blend of picked guitar notes and bowed strings, giving it a unique flavor and drama. If more of the songs were so well-defined, Delicate AWOL would have something really happening.

By Mason Jones

Read More

View all articles by Mason Jones

Find out more about Fire

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.