US - Oregon - Full Moon 235 - 10/27/15
Cars & Trains
'Portland, Oregon based electronic-folk artist on the Fake Four, Inc label. Avid live-looper, tinkerer, coder, maker of small worlds.' (Tom Filepp AKA Cars & Trains)
Yes, after chilling with the excellent The Roots, The Leaves (2010) and the fairly good, but less spectacular (to my ears, that is/was)
We Are All Fire (2012), I entered the crowdfunding project to help launching a new album (the 4th) by Filepp/Cars & Trains without hesitating. Three years
after his last album, Dust appears being an all-instrumental album. A few weeks ago, I received the cassette in my mailbox. A blue tape. Beautiful. Limited edition (250). Flip-up,
fold-out cover. No. 8 (yes, mine is...). Tasty! I need to fix my cassette deck soon...
Dust unveils a way cool collection of songs. Colourful and delicious music. Perfectly tempered, like a good wine. To stick to the wine tasting 'jargon', I'd say Dust has
an indeed rich bouquet. Its brilliant aromas and subtle flavours are near perfect. It is adventurous, yet it's well balanced and earthy. It's got a solid depth, it's elegant - with finesse,
and it's expressive. The songs on Dust are playful and joyous, or, speaking of wines: Buttery and chocolaty. To quote his (own) label, Circleintosquare: 'Dust...
that's the soundtrack to the stars in all of our heads'. Yes, it is neat, and it is true.
The grooves and vibes on Dust is fantastic, fabulous stuff. Filepp is a true DIY artist, doing almost everything himself. Except hiring some help when needed: for recording, design,
etc. He's also used a friend of his (William Ryan Fritch) now and then (for arrangements, etc.). When it comes to composing and performing his songs, Filepp stands out as a multi-instrumental
talent working/building 'walls of analog and granular synthesizers and toys, a wide amount of (acoustic) instruments'. His song titles are poetry themselves: "3:54 of Dreaming Dangerously",
"Out of Tune with the Quiet Day-break", "Asphalt Cracks, Asphalt Breaks", "Spinning Mountains, Roads and Sky between your Fingers". Well, he's been inspired by poets such as Charles Bukowski
(said to be one of his favourites), and Filepp just released a non-album 'bonus track (launched in Ausgust, along with "Iris") called "Ten Lions and the End of the World" - named after a Bukowski
poem. Dust opens with the fascinating "26hz" - a minimalist melody on a repetitive rhythm path, which is followed by the exciting (and slightly exotic) "Theory of Colors". Is this by
chance inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's 1810 book of the same title? The 1810 'edition' is about Goethe's views on 'the nature of colours and how these are perceived by humans'.
(Wikipedia) Is Cars & Trains' 2015 'edition' about Filepp's view on nature of colours, and how these are perceived by him...?
The punchy, pulsating "Iris" is way cool, like a cool, chilled and stripped down 'version' of Caribou. Wait, Caribou and Cars & Trains aren't that similar. Not at all. Or, even a
way, way stripped down 'take' on Fatboy Slim's "Right Here, Right Now" (hey, it's just a reference dropping into my head -- I'm not saying it's a rip off, nor a copy). "3:54 of Dreaming Dangerously"
sails up as one of the great tracks of the album, with its static bass bubbles and slow-whirl rhythms. The album calms down a bit with the brief poetry of the short, piano driven "Out of Tune
with the Quiet Day-break". Another highlight is the bouncy and frisky "Tip-of-the-tongue". Very cool song, Tom.
Same goes for the next one, "Asphalt Cracks, Asphalt Breaks" - a swaying killer of a song. In a way, it's somehow a Philip Glass-ish track. Dust for sure goes for a peaking finish,
as another poetic spinner, "Spinning Mountains, Roads and Sky Between your Fingers" beams out. Pop minimalism at its best. "View from a Height" is a bit sunnier (because it's from a place
higher up, from an elevated perspective?), before the 'grand finale' comes with the closing "The Stars in My Head". The soundtrack to the stars in Filepp's head, or in all of our heads? It
is for sure a fascinating listen and Dust is an album difficult or hard to ignore or forget. Its long aftertaste is... elaborate. Dust is sublime, and it might end up as (one
of) my favourite album(s) of 2015, with its melodies (and rhythms) of haunting, thrilling beauty.. As S. Carey's Range of Light did last year.
Copyright © 2015 Håvard Oppøyen