A horrible hack

Enablers

Blown Realms and Stalled Explosions

Year Released: 2011
Format: CD
Label: Exile On Mainstream
 
Reviewed by Emile Bojesen on Jun 21, 2011
See, thereís a problem with the fact that Enablers get called Ďspoken word musicí. It makes them sound boring and pretentious. It also makes it sound as if the vocals are at the forefront of the listening experience whereas, in actuality, as with most vocals, they mostly play the part of another instrument. The three previous albums, Endnote, Output Negative Space and Tundra have seen them change from (yes) an almost post-rocky background music to spoken word (EN and ONS), to something that sounded a bit like a more restrained Sicbay (T) to something really pretty special, not a million miles away from Sicbay still but also a tiny bit like Kollapse by Breach (especially the deeper and more forceful vocals) and even better, a little like Oxbow. Of course, these are more similarities than influences.

But anyway, hereís the caveat: the consistently spoken word vocals do sometimes sound a little awkward and overly sincere. They do grate and jar you and challenge you and make you think, Ďis this ok?í As such, Enablers are one of those very rare bands where itís possible to like them and dislike them on the same listen. I get the same thing from later Swans stuff and even Tom Waits or Nick Cave. Itís too confident, too secure in itself; doing something challenging but in a way thatís perhaps too self-conscious. Itís a little TOO much. However, Enablers are far more understated than any of these other references and donít have the hooks or obvious choruses which might draw your attention away from other things. But what Enablers do have is a sense of space and tension, as well as an intimate knowledge of how and when to chop and change.

Blown Realms and Stalled Explosions is a far tighter and musically exciting record then their previous ones (which were perhaps more Ďatmosphereí, which is still here). Itís a good record to stay up late and work to and itís a good record to put on in the background to a decent conversation. Itís probably also decent for night time drives on the motorway. Times where you can perhaps just give yourself up to it without thinking about it too much Ė because then maybe, just maybe that creeping self-consciousness might put you off. But then again, I kind of wish my self-consciousness sounded like this.


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