Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Comme Un Reve, Dans La Nuit - Building Castles Out of Matchsticks

Comme Un Reve, Dans La Nuit

Building Castles Out of Matchsticks
Chat Blanc Records.

SCQ Rating: 80%

Even in this fruitful age of communication and information, collecting a cohesive assemblage of Building Castles Out of Matchsticks' releases is next to impossible. With full-lengths and EPs scattered over numerous labels and collaborations ranging from split records to dedicated side-projects, Anne Sulikowski’s prolific streak seems in keeping with her muse; endlessly unfurling and inspired by the greater mysteries. Somewhere between her swelling universe of drones and beats, Sulikowski’s voice has always been the guide, equal parts timid and sensual, leading listeners through the fog and forestry. The latest of these sound-excursions, Comme Un Reve, Dans La Nuit, seems to have found a live trail through the confounding maze which is Sulikowski’s discography, revealing crystalline melodies just beneath the haze.

Not that Building Castles Out of Matchsticks ever sounded melodically malnourished; in fact, 2008’s Secret Land was positively swirling with them, a cesspool of tones so interwoven, half the record’s fun was trying to pull them apart. What marks an immediate shift with Comme Un Reve, Dans La Nuit is how open and lucid it sounds, as if the ominous clouds protecting Secret Land have been banished in favour of visceral swings separating laptop noise from pastoral serenity. On the respective ends of this spectrum lies ‘And Still I Have Never Been Able to Read a Map’, a whirling hotbed of chaotic crashes over multi-layered drones, and ‘Sugar Bleeps’, a brilliantly sparse composition of ricocheting tones and exhaled space. As for the classic Building Castles Out of Matchsticks vocal material we’ve come to expect, it occupies the middle of these two sonic poles and makes for the EP’s most propulsive moments. ‘Like a Dream In the Night’ is a cool night-drive, riding effortlessly on tight beat-programming and eloquent Eastern-vibe keys while ‘Tes Cheveaux Dans Mon Visage’ crests on heavenly keys and memorable vocal hooks.

The EP format doesn’t accommodate a ton of room for gloomy segues and, as a reaction, I can’t help but miss Sulikowski’s knack for creating beautiful branch-off tracks like ‘Secret Land’. Instead of vying for her previous work’s epic sprawl, Comme Un Reve, Dans La Nuit earns its stripes as a sparkling and succinct collection that wanders the boundaries of her self-defined “drone-pop”. It’s a brief journey, but one worth repeating as soon as it’s finished.

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