Amateur recordings, in the positive sense of the word, tend
to capture a moment of energy and inspiration so purely as
to render all artifice in the music void. Of course home-made
or low budget recordings vary, and a lo-fi effort often integrates
some hi-fi techniques; but often the songs laid down in these
sessions remain primitive enough to carry a sense of transparency
and immediacy. This does not necessarily reflect in the quality
of the songs or the recordings themselves for better or worse.
Instead, this transparency allows the listener to look as
if into the garage or basement that generated the music itself.
Certainly an element of a punk DIY ethos creeps in here, and
rough edges abound. But the quality comes down to a band that
has spent enough late nights goofing on ideas and cover songs
to have a basic knowledge of what sounds good without enough
time spent outside of the basement to hear their music in
terms of a larger musical culture. This process results in
music unselfconsciously and unreflectively present, songs
that sound appropriate in a familiar world of rock but that
only make sense in terms of their own universe. For Denverís
DeNunzio, this process resulted in Auditory Crash
Fittingly, the mood of the album covers a wide range over
the course of seven songs. For a band thematically concerned
with a certain aspect of the world around them, it makes sense
for the atmosphere to remain constant or at least show variations
on a theme. An album like OK Computer might range from
playful to introspective to morose to heavenly, but all of
these moods are measured in terms of a world remote and darkly
comic in its cultural story of technology and progress. DeNunzio
covers a similar range, but a common theme does not shape
the songs as much as a common attitude amongst the musicians.
This attitude centers on the joyful pursuit of wherever the
songs might lead, the belief that whether the music ends up
dark or light, meaningful or silly, it is ultimately an expression
of nothing more than the bandís desire to make noise.
Auditory Crash Course begins on a cutely somber song
sounding quite a bit like Sebadoh. Lacking Lou Barlowís
rich voice, "I Wonder" centers on Hans Buenningís
terse, almost spoken vocals and jangling guitar with a cello
to add some depth. In the process of Looking for some truth
I wonder / Has it gone away? Somehow the musicians do
not seem to be taking themselves too seriously, and the obvious
lyrics become an aspect of the bandís basement adventure rather
than a failed attempt at weight. Jason Jonesí drums
and Eliot Zizicís bass provide a snap that seems to
puncture the narratorís desire to float in a world of abstract
truth. The effect undercuts the darkness of the song and allows
the trio to peer through with smiles on their faces. "Cellophane"
continues with the cute but throws in some grunge with Jones
taking lead vocals. Again the band comes off excited and self-humored,
as it will throughout the album. The command to See me
smile again / Punching off of my face / Cause itís a charade
/ Clear as cellophane seems to encompass the bandís attitude
towards songwriting: a game of role-playing all in good fun
yet warped as if looking through plastic.
"Barely There" offers the first attempt at straightforward
playfulness in a raucous, poppy maneuvering through bright
chords and wild piano fills. Despite the hint of detachment
in the title, this song seems to be the high point of the
creative ventures on the album and consequently the most present
and vivid. This pun again seems to be of the bandís construction,
a play on their ability to be so far removed from the rest
of the world and yet so involved in a world of their own device.
"Hadadigm" comes as Zizicís only vocal offering,
and Jones and Buenning manage to humorously rip apart his
smoothness with definitively indie backing vocals Ė half-spoken,
half-shouted, nothing really sung. Buenning throws an organ
into the melee on "So You Know;" producer Mike
Jourgensen adds some guitar wankery to "The Invitation."
These instruments add an element of whim that was otherwise
only present in the writing. As the dedication to the night
weekly spent in the basement, "The Sounds Of Tuesday"
ends the album with a nostalgic tone. And so another journey
into the creepy, crawly, and ticklish underbelly of nervous-energy
noise comes to an end.
DeNunzio succeeds with Auditory Crash Course by tapping
into what should be the source of all musical explorations:
a fascination with and dedication to the immense possibilities
of noise to express our deepest hopes of communicating musically.
Theyíre not always pretty, and theyíre not always good, but
DeNunzio are always a fun ride.
- I Wonder
- Barely There
- So You Know
- The Invitation
- The Sounds Of Tuesday
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