Saddle Creek | Broken Spindles | Reviews



03/26/2004 | | | Album Review
Retreading new ground with, well, new ground, Joel Petersen's "Broken Spindles" project returns with several stylish editions that lend themselves to The Faint bassist's exploratory leanings. At times, fulfilled/complete flirts with full on grandeur, but the feeling subsides or fades just in time to leave a great deal up to the imagination. While the album is sparse only in its overall length, it is loaded with ideas and imagination. The tracks find themselves moving along from piece to piece upon inventive textures and collages of sound. For this go-round, Petersen has added a string section and his own vocals to a number of the songs, an accoutrement that never finds itself out of place on the record.

Aided by Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes, the production on this album stands the test of its varied assignments. Whether its a piano set alongside of effect-heavy atmospherics or strings keeping speed with electric guitar, nothing is overbearing and all of the pieces fit. There is a good deal of built tension that finds excellent release on several songs and the different approaches used to find the release are entertaining at very least. Knowing certain things about the album before listening, like the inclusion of strings, make their use a bit more academic because you are waiting for them and are treated to various uses. Mogis and Petersen combine to form a powerful duo, it will be interesting to see if there is more forthcoming from these two.

Backed by great drums and fuzzed out blips and keyboards, the album sees a meshing of upbeat and aggressive tunes set around a handful of slower, serene movements that release themselves into the air in a swirled subsidence that makes as much impact as the filtered vocals or guitar riffs that precede and follow. Despite the 'obvious' use, the strings actually find themselves into some surprising spaces and none could be more so than their use on, "fall in and down on" a keyboard driven tune that relents to their power and speed. Another pleasant surprise is the vocal approach Petersen has chosen. Each time you hear his voice on a track, there is a bit of mystery to it as he applies different effects to the vocal track that match up with other electro-fied aspects of the songs. In the case of the aforementioned, his voice fits right in with the hard-edged keyboard bassline that runs throughout.

As the songs jump back and forth in style and intensity, the soundtrack feel that is the basis to the original Broken Spindles work remains and flows over from the first album to the current. Differing and varied complete sounds make for some progressive ideas here and every song is a trip on its own accord. While the album clocks in at just over 32 minutes, there is more worth paying attention to here than has been captures on some double albums. Petersen grasps soft and hard compositions while clenching his fists tighter and tighter on tracks like "song no song," "move away," "harm," and "the dream." These songs live on opposite spectrums in one way or another and manage to coexist perfectly as one track clicks or segues to the next.

"Induction," the opening song, is a great feat on this record. At first just an interesting use of layer and slight groove backed by a cool beat, the first use of strings on the album shines and stands out among the best. Though their space on the track is limited, the patience displayed in ushering them in births a whole new movement to a track that is already showing itself as top notch. A sign of good things to come, the song is the first ripple of a huge swell.

Of the tracks that are a bit more 'hard,' "Italian Wardrobe," sitting one step beyond the half-dozen mark on the disc, is given its own legs amongst all of these songs. Massive in its breadth and highly conducive to the cinematic world, the track moves then lays back in ways that beg for visual accompaniment. It is the longest song on the record and still belly's up under the five-minute mark, the riffs and static play lead roles to some moody co-stars, all of which rise and fade in all the right places. Whether its the opening titles or the final chase, this song screams cine`.

All in all, there is something interesting in each of these tracks and in the world of side projects, this is definitely the type that sees its maestro broadening his range. It is remarkable enough that one brain is behind the majority of this finished product, what's more is that it is not this brain's main avenue of musical output. After the rigors of making music and touring with his first successful outfit, Joel Petersen still has time to put together a maelstrom of connected ideas on a record like this. In regards to the second Broken Spindles offering, Petersen is fearless and improves upon his great start by giving usfulfilled/complete.


LP / CD / MP3