SMALL BLACK CD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -
SMALL BLACK
Small Black EP

 

Review Information

Reviewer: David Murcott
Review Date: Jan 2011

CD Information

Label: Jagjaguwar
Running Time: TBA

7.0

out of 10

 

 

Conceived in a Brooklyn attic over the course of a sweltering New York summer, Small Black is the brainchild of Josh Kolenik and Ryan Heyner, two synth-head wunderkinds who bonded over a shared love of ‘casio dream noise pop.’   

Taking their inspiration from a diverse array of sources including dubstep, grime, all manner of electronica and the radio-friendly fare of Brian Eno, the duo conjure a sound that is eminently warm, unpretentious and listenable. The DIY production values are evident in the languidly hazy vocals and heavily iterated drum loops, but instead of being disguised by gloss or trickery this lo-fi ethos is artfully exploited, and the end result is a sound that’s celebratory rather than claustrophobic. 

The vocals are rarely at the fore but when they do feature prominently, as on the album’s penultimate track Kings of Animals, Kolenik’s lyrics show as haunting and darkly poetic: “It laughs like a ghost, it is not of your kind/the godless king of animals.” Elsewhere, as on opener Despicable Dogs, heaviliy processed guitars trill reverb-laden melodies, keys gently counter and the refrain of “Do it without me, do it when I’m gone” manages to sound simultaneously mournful and defiant, whilst the deceptively tuneful Lady in the Wires features heavy percussion, impenetrable lyrics and a hail of tubular guitars that neatly compliments the soaring vocal delivery. 

All in all this seven-track EP, newly remastered and available on CD for the first time, is a confident and tautly-executed debut.  For all the summery shimmer there’s a yearning quality to Small Black that adds depth and resonates further on repeat listens, and overall the duo capture a sound that is at once impassioned, melodic and effortlessly catchy.






 
 



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