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The Sounds of the Sounds of Science

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Album Review

No stranger to the instrumental form, Yo La Tengo has worked a number of vocal-less tracks into their records as interludes or otherwise. Here, though, they take the idea to another level and compose and score nine tracks for performance in front of French filmmaker Jean Painleve's underwater documentaries and shorts. These were then debuted at the San Francisco Film Festival in April 2001. The result of this studio-recorded CD is still quite cinematic. The movements are moody and textural; the direction is sometimes drastic and dramatic and at others plotting and spinning softly, all the while maintaining an underwater feel without resorting to sound effects or things of that sort. Instead, the impressions are given by liquid guitar playing that is at times quite trembly and all the while bouncing off of bubbling basslines. This is a nice treat for Yo La Tengo fans and also admirers of the Boxhead Ensemble's similar cinematic movements.


Formed: 1984 in Hoboken, NJ

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Yo La Tengo are in many respects the quintessential critics' band: in addition to their adventurous eclecticism, defiant independence, and restless creative ambition -- three qualities that virtually guarantee music press acclaim -- the group's frontman, Ira Kaplan, even tenured as a rock scribe prior to finding success as a performer. So frequently compared to the Velvet Underground that they even portrayed the legendary group in the 1996 film I Shot Andy Warhol, the Hoboken, New Jersey-based Yo...
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