Monday, January 17, 2011

Rural Route No. 5 - The Gentleman Losers (Rural Route Series)

Rural Route No. 5

The Gentleman Losers
Standard Form Records.

SCQ Rating: 83%

When The Gentleman Losers signed on to record the fifth installment in Rural Route, a series of conceptual ambient recordings that hark back to a given composer’s snapshot in time, I knew Standard Form had a winner on its hands. Namely because Dustland was hands-down Skeleton Crew Quarterly’s sneakiest record of 2009, one that slowly revealed a world of detailed instrumentation beneath its oppressive plodding layers. No kidding, that sophomore album gets more bemusing by the day, in how it institutes these poignant but stretched plateaus for listeners to find their reflections in, so it’s no surprise that Samu and Ville Kuukka sound right at home amid Rural Route’s ideology of representing a particular time-and-place.

As far as instrumentation goes, it sounds as though the Helsinki-based duo have hardly changed their template. Still boasting an impenetrable hybrid of electronics and warm traditional gear – think down-tempo electronica with a twang – ‘All That Is Solid Melts Into Air’ follows the same meandering paths that dictated Dustland’s frustration-into-admiration clause with browbeaten organs and pedal-steel exploring the terrain of molasses-thick bubble effects which intersperse like a back-beat. Like three different shades of the same idea, that ten-minute main-event flows courtesy of some leafy and watery field recordings – something new, or perhaps simply something more overtly displayed, from the Kuukka Brothers. The following two tracks are more concise and nostalgically loaded, as ‘Valley Green’ taps the call of distant children to a bittersweet descent of guitar and keys while ‘At Dawn I Am the Morning Clouds, At Evening the Falling Rain’ ushers a surge of potent moods through nearly undetectable progressions.

Slipping naturally from the stereo without a cloying template, Rural Route No. 5 develops memories like a roll of undeveloped film passing through different lights. Inhale the good times, the rough spots, and all those indifferent moments with the right music, and none are spared from the potency of the past; a potency that The Gentleman Losers evoke with elegance and wonder.

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