Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Have A Nice Life - Deathconsciousness (2008)

4.5 ★/9.0 - 9.9

The 2000's are coming to a close and for a long time, it appeared this decade's crowning lo-fi achievement would be The Glow Pt. 2. But for every Pavement, there's bound to be a Guided By Voices, and it looks like The Microphones are finally gonna have to share their throne with Have A Nice Life because their debut, Deathconsciousness is a sprawling double album that emerges as a transcendent, emotional masterpiece. And this much is clear even before listening to the damn thing. It's plastic case is twice as big as a normal cd jewel case and will stick out like a sore thumb in your collection. It was composed over the course of nearly six years and is supplemented with a 75 page booklet that's filled with history lessons and theories that strengthen it's enormous themes of death and religion. But it's epic scope isn't just on the surface; every repeat listen further reveals it's ambitions to be bigger than anything released this decade. This is all the more striking considering the fact that it's an mail-order-only release, from a completely unknown duo that is essentially a personal bedroom recording project, based in Connecticut of all places. But we get the sense that Tim and Dan aren't trying to become successful musicians, or even musicians at all. They're simply obscure philosophers and this is the soundtrack to their byzantine ideas.

Despite such complex conceptual motives, the musical ideas on Deathconsciousness are strikingly bare. Unlike Phil Elvrum who tended to show off his dynamic range, Have A Nice Life let their somber progressions sit, gaining resonance and power with droning repetition while they layer it with swirling patterns of emotive vocals. Every moment of vulnerability is expanded like taffy to it's breaking point, drenched in a subterranean, lo-fi mist and driven by industrial drum machines that make it sound like it's been recorded in a boiler room. The result is a mix of Post Punk, Shoegaze and Post Rock, but what Deathconsciousness accomplishes is beyond genre. "A Quick One Before The Eternal Worm..." is stunningly spacious and formless whereas the furious punk of "Waiting For Black Metal Records..." and "The Future" are condensed blasts of rage. The heartbreaking depths of "Who Would Leave Their Son...", "The Big Gloom" and "I Don't Love" are bottomless while the mind-shattering "Earthmover" rises past heaven in true GY!BE fashion. And interludes like "There Is No Food" and "Deep Deep" exhibit barricades of impenetrable sound and texture.

Affectionately advertised by it's creators as "the most depressing album ever made" and running past 85 minutes, a full listen to Deathconsciousness can be exhausting. But anyone who meets it halfway will likely have a religious experience. With the exception of the tired "Telephony", Deathconsciousness is nearly perfect. It plays not like an album, but like a powerful film. Unfortunately, getting a hold of this little-known gem can be a pain, but I can't stress enough that Deathconsciousness should not be missed by anyone.

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