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1 Mile North - Minor Shadows

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Artist: 1 Mile North

Album: Minor Shadows

Label: Ba Da Bing

Review date: Aug. 12, 2003

Odds are that no one else on earth is thinking of you right now.

It’s 3 a.m., or at least it was 30 minutes ago. You feel as alone as you’ve felt in a long time. The usual tricks aren’t working. All your CDs sound tinny and insulting, and you can’t read more than two paragraphs before your attention breaks up. You’ve never been in a better position to appreciate the sound of a ringing telephone, but no one’s going to call you unless they’re in jail or cryin’ drunk. For your part, you’re not plowed enough to buzz random pals, so you pick up the receiver and ponder the dial tone. You detect each little flutter, and the central purr seems to drop and escalate. It preserves your sanity like your Big Star albums have failed to do.

While many outfits of 1 Mile North’s ilk seem to sound closer to the dial tone’s actual pattern, Minor Shadows nails the dial tone’s presence in your skull. And it doesn’t forget to play in its interactions with other household hums, or the wind chime on the porch when a breeze kicks up. “In 1983 He Loved To Fly” sets the contemplative mood; by the time “Return To Where We Came” rolls up, you notice the gnats bumping against the windows, and you don’t feel so bad for yourself.

Things get more lilting near the end. “The Sick” and “Black Lines” introduce distillations of the charming, rickety hooks you hear from East River Pipe and Optiganally Yours / Pinback, except with no vocals and nothing – even the guitar melodies – that can be easily traced to a particular instrument. “Black Lines” kneads in an uneasy synth, which sounds more like a wood block.

It all began with the drone, you know. 1 Mile North is one step west of the drone, an exploration of what could’ve been if the drone was more often respected and less often smothered in noise. It’s what new melodies sound like, before they’re pimped out by rhythms. It’s lonely and it’s lovely.

“The Manual” closes with another ghostly tune, translucent against a backdrop of planetarium music.

By Emerson Dameron

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