Bill Gould and Jared Balm / The Talking Book/ Koolarrow Records
Former Faith No More bassist Bill Gould and sound artist Jared Blum collaborate here to produce a collection of overdriven, echo-ey soundscapes. Funk-metal this ain’t. Who knew Gould had it in him? The instrumental diversity is impressive here, comprising electronic noises, DIY percussion, acoustic and electronic instruments, and haunting vocals. Tracks flow into each other. Most of the songs sound like descriptions of (often creepy) places, but for the most part they avoid clichés of ambient music. Synths and fuzzy drones are prevalent, indeed sometimes a little overused, but are never indulgent. At its best moments, The Talking Book surprises in its willingness to meld a wide range of elements, from electronics to exotic strings. Gould’s bass work is understated but very effective.
Track-by-track descriptions are on the inside. Recommended cuts marked with asterisks.
Instrumental-- No FCC Violations
1. 0:54 Spooky, effects-drenched synth echoes over earthy bass and faint drones.
2.*** 8:29 A mini-suite of a few distinct movements. Spacey string instrument plays exotic melody; drone synths and distorted voices take over; minimalist brooding with creepy piano and ominous, buzzy strings; mega-fuzzy drones with pulsing bass; happy melodies fade out. A lot of variety, but the song develops naturally and coheres well.
3. 2:25 Sharp, occasionally harsh electronic noises with drones. Incoherent whispering at beginning and end.
4. 10:14 Long periods of layered synth rivers. Ambient percussion is well used, especially in quieter sections. Spooky vocals and piano develop at later stages.
5. 3:14 Unremarkable synths and simple bass. Later, beautiful, exotic string and wind instruments take over.
6. 3:46 Pained operatic moaning followed by psychedelic noises and drones.
7. 3:07 Shrill noises and atmospheric synths. Shrieking sounds form a “melody.”
8.*** 8:41 The strongest cut on the CD. Hollow bells and helicopter. Too many odd noises/instruments to name. An uncharacteristically precise melody twangs midway through, followed by an ominous waltz (!!). Beautifully coherent structure.
9. 2:16 Driven by a pensive bass line. Still noisy, but calmer than the rest.
10. 11:51 A long narrative with abrupt transitions. Less grandiose as other tracks. Pulsing bass and acoustic guitar plucking throughout. Optimistic, even joyful in parts.
11. *** 6:05 An extension of the concepts introduced in track 1. Some delightfully weird mouth-noises. Nice and haunting, but more repetitive than the rest.