Producers Joel Martin and Matt Edwards (a.k.a. Radioslave, responsible for extending the shelflife of that goddamn Paul McCartney “Temporary Secretary” song via gauche re-edit) are Quiet Village, a mellow kinda pastiche act that’s stepping up with a full-length after a handful of 12”s on sought-after boutique label and DJ Harvey affiliates Whatever We Want Records. Positioned on that roster, they cast a wide net over areas not covered by the cartoon-like Map of Africa, the schizophrenic singles output of Bobbie Marie, and the unapologetic edits of Otterman Empire – picturesque soundscapes of repurposed beats from subdued jazz/soul dusties, punched up with newly-recorded guitar leads, vocals and other latter-day flourishes. And given the context of the one-track-per-side 12”, their music made sense as a tool.
Essentially, what’s going on in Silent Movie is a game of three-card monte, a little sleight-of-hand that tacks complementary sounds on top of pre-existing big budget studio productions of the past. So, you’ll hear what sounds ostensibly like a Delfonics record (opener “Victoria’s Secret”), or some retired Grover Washington, Jr. side (“Pacific Rhythm”), or some Joe Walsh jam crossed up with the Tangerine Dream score to Risky Business (”Pillow Talk”), but only enough of one to get the feeling of the source material.
Sadly, you never get to the break or the message, and the Village’s coloring does nothing to remedy the situation. Their sources are impeccable, and, as stylists, both Martin and Edwards’ suggestions are undeniably cool. But cool is all these guys have to work with, and the intended effect wears off midway through each track. It’s a real shame that the bases they build off of don’t change keys or take on any action, as their additions aren’t strong enough to stand up on their own. The title of the album is remarkably apt – these guys don’t want to attempt to dialogue with the listener, and their drowsy combination of nuance and light touches roll right off of one another. It’s like a downtempo house record stuck between two mirrors, unable to latch onto the smooth, reflective surfaces on either side.
A decade ago, DJ Shadow and David Holmes both proved that you can make hundreds of records tell a story. Five years ago, the Avalanches showed us that the story can also be a raging party. Silent Movie shows us how to recontextualize dinner music, and reminds us that it’s still suited for nothing more than background.