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Enon - Grass Geysers…Carbon Clouds

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Artist: Enon

Album: Grass Geysers…Carbon Clouds

Label: Touch and Go

Review date: Oct. 12, 2007

Since 2000’s Believo!, Enon has earned a solid reputation as genre-mashers, making value out of eclecticism and experimentation. They’re dabblers, but their dabbling never gets in the way of writing sturdy tunes. On Grass Geysers…Carbon Clouds they have once again zigzagged around what we might expect, penning an album of 12 songs that all tow the same line and never stray far from a simple set-up.

Album opener “Mirror on You” is all propulsion and overflowing energy: an aggressive fuzz-bass riff overlaid with a blur of distorted guitar chords, a tug-of-war between John Schmersal’s yelping soul vocals and Toko Yasuda’s echoing refrain of ”Mirrormirrormirrormirror”, all paced by hand-claps and a heavy-handed hi-hat. Toko and Schmersal switch roles for the next track, “Colette,” putting Toko’s coy vocals out front in a track that uses the same template as the opener. Everything you need to know about GG…CC you can hear in these two tracks. For an Enon record, that is not a good sign.

The band starts at a sprint, but by the fourth track, “Sabina,” they’re already sucking wind. Too often, the trio’s grab at energy falls flat, either lacking dynamic contrast (the punk-missive “Those Who Don’t Blink”) or missing articulation (Schmersal’s vocals become a howl on “Peace of Mind”.) It’s as if Schmersal and Co. came up with a formula and stuck to it: big punk-funk bass hooks supporting controlled blasts of noise and distortion, and tempos that are fast and a little bit nervous. The final two tracks, “Labyrinth” and “Ashish” slow things down a bit and add some breathing room, but they play more like an exhausted collapse than a smooth come-down. The album’s only 35 minutes, but it feels longer.

The innovative and fun Enon of Believo! built up energetic albums by keeping the listener guessing and loading their songs with surprises. That Enon still exists on GG…CC in the vocal interplay between Schmersal and Toko and in how the band pulls shape and sense from noise. “Johnny Doolittle” uses a vocal-and-bass break from Toko to great effect, and “Mr. Ratatatatat” plays Schmersal’s infectious, buoyant chorus off his mangled guitar phrasings. But these tracks aren’t enough to keep up the pace Enon sets for itself. This Enon is leaner and more straight-forward – but also more one-dimensional.

By Matthew Wuethrich

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