Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dummy Blog Album of the Week: 'No Certain Night Or Morning' by Home Video

The problem with Brooklyn electropop duo Home Video is so glaringly obvious that it seems gauche even to mention it, like if you were at a party and a girl walked in with a baby mole clinging to her leg. But here goes:

They certainly do sound a lot like Radiohead.

Specifically, singer Colin Ruffino sounds almost indistinguishable from Thom Yorke. And it's not just the natural timbre of his voice – he flattens it into a nasal dirge much like Yorke does on songs like Everything In Its Right Place. Keyboardist David Gross also takes a lot from the Kid A era, combining those Arctic synth harmonies with a little bit of New Order's foundry disco.

Home Video's debut single That You Might and debut EP Citizen both came out on Warp Records, and since Warp is one of Thom Yorke's favourite labels I did even wonder for a moment if Home Video could possibly be a contract-dodging Yorke side project. Home Videoteque? But it just wasn't quite as strong as I (correctly, it turned out) expected a Thom Yorke solo effort would be.

The rule is, of course, that the one old band a new band won't list under 'Influences' on their Myspace page is the old band they actually ripped off, and naturally there's no sign of Radiohead on Home Video's Myspace. Sure, it could be that they genuinely aren't into Radiohead - but they must at least be aware of Radiohead's existence, so why don't they make more of an effort to set themselves apart? That said, after a million bands that sound like Radiohead's The Bends era, it's nice, I suppose, to have at least one that sounds more like their unpopular recent work.

Anyway, none of this is a reason to ignore Home Video, because Citizen was great, and No Certain Night Or Morning is nearly as good; by which I mean that all the best tracks on No Certain Night Or Morning were already on Citizen. The stand-out is We - named after Yevgeny Zamyatin's 1921 dystopian novel? - which, despite featuring some particularly egregious Yorkisms on Ruffino's part, builds a sense of almost apocalyptic regret out of the most minimal of materials, its tumbling synth chorus like a suicidal I Feel Love. All Home Video's melodies, in fact, sound extraordinarily distant and attenuated and chilly. The result is that, when they bring in even the quietest little fake string section for the chorus, the contrast feels like strobe lights going off.

And when these vampiric Junior Boys try out other genres, like rock on Gas Tank with its live drums and bass, or techno on Melon with its 4/4 pulse, these lonely textures spoil the fun in the most exquisite way. Even the remix of Penguin by The Loving Hand, aka Tim Goldsworthy of the DFA, doesn't – can't - party as hard as the average DFA product. I'd love to hear a remix by James Holden or Ricardo Villalobos, which would wallow in, not resist, Home Video's sadness, and at the same time punch up the dancefloor potential that never quite comes through on No Certain Night Or Morning.


Out now on Defend Music

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"and naturally there's no sign of Radiohead on Home Video's Myspace." Ned Beauman

Now how arrogant is that ?
The bands three favorite albums at that time are listed right in the biography... Portishead, Massive Attack and RADIOHEAD ( last time I checked O.K. Computer was a Radiohead album) I think that qualifies as a "sign of Radiohead," don't you ?

You wanted to be right about your hypothesis about 'rip off bands" so badly that you read the information on their website selectively.

They have never, ever denied that they love Radiohead, but you don't know that because you don't know them and since you don't know them, you should not presume to know how they think.

I hope you think about this next time you are in such a hurry to prove a point.