Monday, February 14, 2011

Japanese For Beginners - Near the Parenthesis

Japanese For Beginners

Near the Parenthesis
n5MD Records.

SCQ Rating: 83%

There’s language to be interpreted on Near the Parenthesis’ new full-length, but it’s neither Japanese nor Tim Arndt’s native tongue of English. After several listens, what initially unfurled as elegant piano progressions, chiming and lamenting over beds of delicate electronics, transforms into Arndt’s ivory-key vocabulary; capable of circling a situation, describing its backdrop, and echoing the listener’s sentiments. Japanese For Beginners’ focus on piano becomes a mere subtext as the flurry of language over these nine compositions amass, with somber and hopeful melodies, into a forty-five minute web of reflective vignettes.

Rarely does a record’s uniformity remain this engaging throughout. With similar gears – piano, a variety of ambient keys and a throbbing patchwork of nestled beats – at work beneath each piece, Near the Parenthesis encourages strong melodic passages to persevere impulsively placed notes which tense and redefine its motivations. Alongside some of his most overtly electronic landscapes to date, Arndt’s pieces never settle, often tying emotional weight into a shuffling, nomadic desire to move forward. With each song modulating another catalyst for the record’s changing emotional state, highlights distinguish themselves regularly: ‘Soft Warmly Straw Raincoat’ delivers an hypnotic back-beat as evocative as the fine imagery of its title, ‘Voice and Radio Bureau’ welcomes some Rounds-era glitchiness, then ‘The Rose and Burial’ steps back into some Arovane-esque electronic solitude.

Okay, those “highlights” listed are actually just the first three tracks, and their effectiveness will largely depend on each listener’s capacity for stylish, unobtrusive electronica. There’s room to argue Japanese For Beginners’ charms as overly pretty, but to dismiss the record on such grounds would be overlooking Arndt’s concentrated ability to score emotional moods with a refined palette. Making the most of monotony, Near the Parenthesis has crafted the first great electronic record of 2011.

Near The Parenthesis - Japanese For Beginners - Soft Warmly Straw Raincoat (n5MD) by pdis_inpartmaint

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