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The Remote Viewer - Here I Go Again On My Own

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Artist: The Remote Viewer

Album: Here I Go Again On My Own

Label: City Centre Offices

Review date: Jul. 22, 2002

Referencing the title of the famous Whitesnake song (1980s long-haired rocker going down the only road he’s ever known), the Remote Viewer’s Here I Go Again On My Own is an imaginative foray into electro-pop and the possibilities of sound. Unlike the aforementioned Whitesnake, the Remote Viewer does not strive to create guitar-driven music that residents of Buffalo used to play to their teenage girlfriends before impregnating them and reluctantly taking a job in the factory (which isn’t a bad way to spend a Friday night by the way, as long as the factory pays solid union wages). For the purposes of the Remote Viewer, however, Here I Go Again On My Own Again On My Own seems to allude instead to the uniqueness of sound comprehension, and the artist’s intentions in recreating noises.

The second release of Craig Tattersall and Andrew Johnson as the Remote Viewer, Here I Go Again On My Own reflects the band’s growing confidence in a genre in which abstraction is a necessary substitute for direct interaction. As members of the lauded Leeds-based Hood, Tattersall and Johnson ran the gamut of genres, being labeled everything from indie rock, to post-rock and IDM. As their next incarnation, the Famous Boyfriend, Tattersall and Johnson began edging their way towards electro-pop. It is hard to tell if they have truly accepted their transformation from a performing band to the more cerebral status of composers. According to the write-up on the Darla Records website that accompanies Here I Go Again On My Own, at their first gig as the Remote Viewer in Paris, Tattersall and Johnson “played the music off minidisc while having crisps and beer.”

Nevertheless, existential crises and the trauma of being useless in person aside, Here I Go Again On My Own is a strong work by any measure. The album commences with “I Climbed A Mountain,” an aptly named song that possesses a wry, scratchy percussion sound that is gradually joined by a keyboard. Drifting in and out with stuttered forward momentum, Tattersall and Johnson acoustically affect the progress of moving uphill. “Spend More Time With Me” offers an ethereal soundscape with the premise reversed – high keyboard notes guide the song forward with a more clear, defined beat lurking in the background. Many of the Remote Viewer’s songs stick to this simple formula and it works quite well.

Here I Go Again On My Own changes pace with the fifth track, “We Found Sound,” which is distinctly melancholy. It is the right time as well, as I found the album blending together into a pleasant, but somewhat indistinguishable theme. The title of “We Found Sound” implies a type of genesis, where the composers stumble upon and create sound – it is not given to them. It is an interesting idea, especially in the context of the Remote Viewer, who, in spite of their reliance on technology, do not lose that organic feel. Perhaps it can be described as electronic truism. While the composers find sound, it is not needlessly and violently mangled in its electronic form, but instead is gently molded to emulate its familiar origins.

Many of the later tracks on Here I Go Again On My Own seem to adhere to this principle. “Sound of A Finished Kiss” contains moist, sucking sounds, pauses that likely indicate the separating of lips. “Drunken Noise” is as cacophonous as the title implies, with buzzing and scraping sounds emerging from the background at random intervals. The Remote Viewer engages the lush—his motions are reconceived as disparate and clashing sounds signifying a wayward and stumbling motion.

Vocals are used sparsely on Here I Go Again On My Own and when they are, they do not offer much in the way of poetry. On “Snow It Falls On,” a vocalist who sounds remarkably similar to the Microphones’ Phil Elvrum intones the words of the song title over and over again in a droning fashion. Even here lyrics are not employed to elucidate subject matter, the cadence and tonal qualities of the human voice are given predilection over its ability to interpret.

I hope the Remote Viewer enjoy a long and illustrious career making electronic pop. To be honest, I do not think it would be a bad thing if they even incorporated aspects of their rock past. Lyrics need not be merely superfluous in the company of pure sound, but can provide a diversity of understanding. The writer’s relationship to the world he documents is often very similar to the composer’s relationship to the sounds he tries to recreate. Maybe they can even collaborate with David Coverdale.

By Andy Urban

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