Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Bluskreen makes beautiful, complicated downtempo music

January 11, 2010

Bluskreen’s Mockup is exactly what I like to see from a sophomore album: an album that builds off the established sound of the first release without abandoning the trademarks that made the debut so good.  The sounds in Mockup expand on the cinematic downtempo techno of debut Selections by incorporating a lot more analog sounds into the songwriting mix this time.

Tony Lannutti certainly gave himself space to work; Mockup compiles over an hour of music on seventeen tracks. The fact that every minute of these songs is instrumental is the greatest strength and worst weakness of the album. Its chosen genre (cinematic downtempo, also known as the music that accompanies technological thrillers of the movie or tv persuasion) makes it easy for those without long attention spans to file this in “background music” and forget it. That would be doing themselves a disservice, as the melodicism and fine-tuned construction of this album make it a treasure trove of beautiful moments.

Since pop songwriting structure is abandoned, Lannutti is free to experiment with melodies, rhythms and buildups at his own pace. There is no governing structure to any Bluskreen song except the one that Lannutti decides upon; this means that every song is a surprise. Songs take abrupt turns, unexpected instruments appear, and subtle moods are tracked and morphed. Centerpiece “The Horse’s Mouth” is seven minutes of charging synths accompanied by gentle blips and snare-heavy percussion. It leads into “Lightning Bug,” which is based out of a melodic wash of synths. The tension-filled “Immunity” is built on a fragment of a guitar line. The remorseful “In Due Time” features found sound and a percussion instrument that sounds like a vibraphone.

This album is over an hour long, and it hides gold in every track. There is not a clunker on this album, and that’s really difficult to say about any album with seventeen tracks, much less an instrumental one. Even more impressive is that the album doesn’t feel repetitive at all. Different sounds, rhythms, tempos and moods populate each one, making the album a long, satisfying journey. It’s a journey that needs to be focused on and listened to as a piece of art, and not as background music. But for those willing to pour some tea, sit back, and listen intently, there’s an exciting hour and change waiting for you in Bluskreen’s Mockup.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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