Saddle Creek | Broken Spindles | Reviews



Author: Joel Dunham
08/03/2005 | | | Album Review
Joel Peterson, bassist for Saddle Creek bands the Faint and Beep Beep, is releasing his third solo project LP under the Broken Spindles moniker. In a departure from earlier Broken Spindles releases, Peterson decided to compose, record, mix, and program everything on Inside/Absent. Part dance electronica, part modern rock, part piano sonata (!), Peterson's album is a remarkably confessionary album. Relentlessly scrutinizing all aspects of Peterson's life, Inside/Absent reveals a young man struggling with pessimism, regret, and a fear of death. In his own words, Peterson says of the album, "Ultimately, the main goal was to be real and honest."

The album's title and cover art falls in line with the insular nature of the album. Like the stick people stolen from restroom door signs, Peterson peers into the human soul and finds nothing there. Also in keeping with Peterson's purpose, he does not overpopulate his insular universe with a studio's paradise of tricks, sounds, and overdubs. Rather, everything is kept as sparse as possible, helping to keep the focus on Peterson's bleak narration of his life. Lyrics such as "My blood strolls through me slow," "It's hard for people to get close to me when I'm so distant," "Burn my body, I'm taking up space," and "Please don't remember this, please don't consider this," may seem overly direct in self-accusation and self-effacement, but this is all in keeping with the confessionary nature of the work.

For a couple of the tracks on this relatively short album, however, Peterson doesn't feel the need to say anything at all. The opening track "Inward" is a brooding piano piece that is entirely instrumental. Peterson plays the piano in a piercing, percussionist manner much like Aphex Twin's piano work on Drukqs. Similarly, the dolor on "Desaturated" is filled out using only the piano. Elsewhere in the album, the piercing, evil-lullaby piano permeates other bleak tracks such as "Birthday" and "Painted Boy Face."

The spiritual deadness, the one man composer, the use of electronica, and the painfully autobiographical nature of Inside/Absent cannot avoid comparison to Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails. I don't know if Peterson is a NIN fan or would appreciate the comparison, but I think it needs to be said. You don't have to be a NIN fan to enjoy Inside/Absent; in fact Peterson's album isn't near as heavy or violent as Reznor's work. While Peterson may not have been musically influenced by Reznor's work, I think both men are setting out to achieve the same purpose. Both find the modern life to be without purpose, left in a godless vacuum, after our culture's banishment or killing of God. Nietzsche was the one who said, "God is dead," and it seems as if Joel Peterson is many years later setting this axiom to music and living with the consequences.


LP / CD / MP3