Joel Peterson originally started his lo-fi electronic project Broken Spindles as music that was to consort with one of his friend’s film projects. With his 2002 self-titled debut of instrumental electronic mood pieces, Peterson, who is also the bassist of the Nebraska New-Wavers and The Faint, had created a richly layered effort of songs that had a hand in spurting the indie-electronic movement. On Inside/Absent he scrapped the instrumentation down to some rudimentary helpings on an album whose outer shell was conceived on his laptop during his free time on tour with The Faint. However, the plate on Inside/Absent is not as full with ten songs that clock in at a mere 26 minutes. The songs are a little bit more capricious than Peterson's previous work as he displays his saccharine vocal skills on this one instead of the instrumental works on his previous albums.

The opening “Inward” is a lucent piece with a chamber-like piano flow that makes the track seem like an overture of sorts for the album. Some melancholy skitter is abound with “This is an Introduction” that has a splash of poignant beats that are in some way evocative of the vibe from the tracks off of this year's Digital Ash in a Digital Urn album from label mate Bright Eyes. The more indie-minded “Burn My Body” has a treble to it that snaps, crackles, and pops along with a strummy ebb as some minimal funk groves are peppered into the trip-hop sway in “Please Don’t Remember This.” For the latter, be sure to have an ice pack handy for your neck as it will keep your head bobbing long after it is over. Of course, the semi avant-garde interlude of “Desaturated” runs a little bland as “Anniversary” can seem wooden at best, but luckily, the arty lacuna of “Valentine” seems to pick things back up. Inside/Absent can be gracious as well with the experimental fuzzy chime of “Birthday,” and the electro-laden, 80’s dance club licks in “The Distance is Nearsighted” makes it seem like Fischerspooner for sensitive people.

The endeavors that Peterson puts forth on Inside/Absent conclude with mixed results. Beginning listeners should start out with Broken Spindles' self-titled debut to get a better grasp of the musical aesthetic that he puts forth on his recordings. Of course if you want the real deal, be sure not to miss him when he passes through your town. He performs behind a giant screen that shows films that he created to accompany his music. The live show is cut from the same cloth as the musical multimedia mavericks Godspeed You Black Emperor!

Chris Pacifico
JamBase | Philly
Go See Live Music!

[Published on: 8/18/05]

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