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Modes of Transportation, Vol. 1

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After hearing the fairy-tale introduction, "Terry Magnifica," and the loopy yodeling in the opening minutes of "These Days Are Old," you can't help but recognize Spookey Ruben as eccentricity in its purest form. He also, however, proves himself an undeniably superb and original stylist on this debut long-player. If Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding had continued to explore the most cracked and esoteric terrain of Oranges & Lemons rather than further refining their pop/rock, or if Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith had lightened up considerably during the sessions for Seeds of Love, the results might have approached Modes of Transportation, Vol. 1. The songs range from the bizarre to the childlike to the strangely haunting, all with impeccably crafted pop hooks. There is a guilelessness throughout that is fascinating, especially when it turns dark, as on the lullaby "Crystal Cradle," where Ruben's voice lowers into Morrissey or Dave Gahan range without descending into misery or sounding threatening. Ruben's songcraft is grounded, not accidentally, in the '80s British new wave scene, from its oddly flexible melodies to its angular and brooding tone. Songs like "Welcome to the House of Food" and "Donate Your Heart to a Stranger" are sonically menacing, but the songwriter undercuts the mood with lyrics that are anything but, and a relentlessly buoyant approach. At other times, Ruben breaks up the relative mellowness of songs with sound effects or collage techniques, and the artist's attraction to worldbeat elements ("The Size of You," "It's Not What You Do It's You") only heightens the exotic vibe of the album. It is a relentlessly artistic vision that never comes off as either pretentious or hollow because the naïve and silly qualities of the music play so enticingly off the duskier edges. As inventive as it is, the album perhaps draws a bit too freely from the XTC melodic bag of tricks, and occasionally Ruben's most experimental quirks sabotage his songs. But on the whole, Modes of Transportation, Vol. 1 is a confectionary treat.


Nacido(a): 1972 en Canada

Género: Alternativa

Años de actividad: '90s, '00s

Alternative singer/songwriter and experimental filmmaker Spookey Ruben makes melodic, lo-fi, new wave-influenced pop music. Born Alan Deil in Ottawa, Ontario, Ruben spent much of his youth in Germany and other European countries, where his father worked as an engineer for the European Space Agency. By his teens, Ruben's long hair and love of speed metal had earned him the nickname Spookey. He formed several heavy metal bands before enrolling in film school at Toronto's York University. During this...
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Modes of Transportation, Vol. 1, Spookey Ruben
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