Sunday, November 1, 2009

Jewels - (2007)

The 15 tracks that eventually comprised the release of The Jewels were first made available one at a time only as website downloads at various points between 2006 and 2007 before being compiled onto a standard CD release. Using a game (called "DAVE," for the record) that had both deliberate and enigmatic instructions on each card, the band generated ideas — without telling each other what their cards were inscribed with — that were then used to construct and complete tracks within a day or two. Adding another unconventional element to the process, the lyrics were based on dreams. Yet while the methodology might have been unusual, all told the results really aren't uncharacteristic of Einst├╝rzende Neubauten, if perhaps not as noisy as what listeners familiar with their most celebrated work might anticipate. There's not much in the way of conventional pop or rock song melody, of course, but there's a fairly even and creative spread of textures both ambient and clamorous, with both English and (more often) German lyrics that are more spoken than sung in nature. The combination of elements is starker and sparer than in most electronic or ambient music, however, and while the unpredictable and incongruous elements are suggestive of dreams, those dreams are sometimes fairly serene as well as fairly disturbing. Perhaps the most memorable soundbite of the lot is the eerie quasi-prayer chant "am I only Jesus, I am only Jesus" that underscores "Am I Only Jesus?" (

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