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Moritat

Clill Blanzin


[Self-released; 2012]



By ; July 24, 2012 


Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG


Just to be clear: I have no idea what the phrase “Clill Blanzin” means. It could be a regional term, although it sounds a bit like an awkward nickname – the kind of name you’d give the crazy old guy who roams your local streets and shouts random words. Maybe one time some dude caught him shouting “clill blanzin” and decided to associate him with those two words forever. “Hey, Clill,” someone passing by might say, “Raking through the bins again?” “FARNL GEFFNOR!” Clill would reply in his usual slightly manic way, letting another possible name ring through the streets. Another encounter with Clill, another tale to tell your friends. “Cool story, bro,” they might say.

Nonetheless, I don’t think understanding what “Clill Blanzin” means will make much difference regarding what you’re likely to make of Moritat’s debut album; like its title, Clill Blanzin is an odd collection of songs that are hard to define. The band describes themselves indecisively: “We can be driving, or dance oriented, or noisy and textured, and heavy, and grooving also. And rock hard.”

In a way, they’re spot on; their music takes influence from numerous sources. But in another way, they’re not really right at all; while they may dabble in dance breakdowns, or rock-outs, they never quite hit the mark. They often sound like they’re teetering on turning into something more fully fledged, or committing to a particular sound, but they never do. The end result leaves something to be desired: Clill Blanzin is easier to find intriguing than it is to actually like.

The main offender is “Shopping,” which can catch you off guard and offer one of those relatively rare moments when you’re left staring at your iTunes screen thinking “What the fuck?” From a ditzy keyboard line and an incomplete half-funky guitar riff comes a charging start-stop section where band members shout lines like “Hey teach me how to shop!” and “I’m as loose as a goose!” It’s enjoyable the first few times, but soon enough becomes grating, and the flat wordless harmonies that follow each moment make working through the whole track a little tedious.

There’s also seven minute “Automatic Lover,” which sounds like something between Lower Dens and Hot Chip complete with a three-minute instrumental coda. While that might sound interesting, it’s not nearly as interesting or entertaining as you’d hope: the band stop and start for the first four minutes, and each time they do, they sound like they’ve no idea where they’re going with the track; the coda, on the other hand, is relatively satisfying (especially considering how it emerges from one of the flattest and un-funkiest drum breaks ever) but still feels detached from the rest of the track.

What Clill Blanzin needs is tightening up: too often it sounds like it’s wandering between each moment, struggling to get to its destination (if there actually is one). While ten tracks over fifty minutes is perfectly reasonable, that time can feel tiresome when taken as a whole. With its fidgety mid-section, even the album’s gentlest moment – the Yo La Tengo-esque “I Forgot To Kiss Her” – feels like a bit of a trek. The saving grace for a lot of the tracks here is that they are that bit more effective when taken on their own instead of bleeding into each other’s odd vacuums.

The best track here is “Snowpusher” which has a welcome structure, likeable riffs and hooks, and a full-on wash of synths to drive it forward. It’s a shame the band doesn’t execute this kind of consistency more often; they repeatedly allow good ideas or sounds to get buried, forgotten, or slip away. Lead singer Venus Laurel adopts a distorted Karen O style of singing on “Money” but it goes no further than a few screams here and there; the shuffling drum track on “Wheelin’” is a nice sonic detail, but it seems to just disappear out of view on the second half of the song.

Moritat do sound like they have the potential to deliver something better, though: “Noise” and “Wheelin’” are likeable but, again, they only really sound good on their own. To be more memorable, lasting, and impressionable, the band just needs to learn to be more concise and purposeful. If they do that then someone just might mean it when they say, “Cool song, bro.”


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