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Blindfold - Faking Dreams

  by Jeff Thiessen

published: 6 / 7 / 2009

Blindfold - Faking Dreams
Label: Blindfold Music
Format: CD


Euphoric and frequently compelling second album from Icelandic ambient post-rock act, Blindfold

My favourite track by Wilco is easily 'Less Than You Think', the closing freakout off' A Ghost is Born'. Wilco devotees hated it, and probably for good reason. The sudden departure into some fairly harsh sonic territory stood in stark contrast to all the naked accessibility Jeff Tweedy is most known by. Me, I can’t get enough of the song, and for a while there, I actually wanted it played at my funeral (that choice has since been replaced by Coil’s 'Going Up', the only closer I have ever heard that is more transcendent than 'Less Than You Think', and it’s very nearly a coin-toss), but that gives you a pretty good idea just how much I treasure this song. It’s true I like a lot of abrasive, grinding stuff, but that’s not the only prerequisite to get in my good books. It can’t be difficult for the simple sake of being difficult. The music has to successfully take me into a place that may not be inherently enjoyable, but it breaths truth, and that’s something I will always be able to relate to on an extremely personal level. 'Less Than You Think 'starts off with a very delicate piano-based first portion, complete with Tweedy droning on, reminding us however much we’d like to believe otherwise, night doesn’t end and blend into tomorrow. It dissolves, and everything is really less than we actually think. It’s a typical Wilco message, optimism totally cloaked in despair, but to me it merely provides a suitable intro to the real meat of 'Less Than You Think', which consists of nine minutes of feedback washing over us, dissonance providing the only corporeal element we can truly hold on to, and, despite all of Tweedy’s extremely meaningful words, it’s the discord I rely on the most these days. Words are just words, but the latter half of 'Less Than You Think allows me to infiltrate a world where I create my own words. I control the dials; and I will always be grateful for the independence this song gives me every single time I hear it, even if (or maybe especially if) it’s just a bunch of metallic grinding to most people. A simple version of all this is I admire music to take me off my feet into the unknown, and while I do openly admit I have a certain soft spot that is a sucker for those Sister Rays out there, music unafraid to surrender me to the grim realities of our world in convenient audio format, I still dig stuff that takes me the other way. Of course both are forms of escapism, but one seems more relatable to me, while the other seems like it’s a world that’s just too far away from where I rest my head at night. Such is the case of the new record by Blindfold entitled Faking Dreams, which comes from a group of four Icelandic boys. I have listened through this album twice now, and I have decided I will champion this effort, as it doesn’t so much implant any real ideology or ill-advised stamp on my brain, but it did drift in and out of my psyche at will, and there were more than enough moments of outright beauty I can forgive the few moments of placid frailty that invoked nothing other than bland ambivalence. But that sort of thing is bound to happen when a band is intent on buying the ticket, and taking you for the ride, sometimes the surreal life can be another word for yawn-inducing boredom. Even my favourite mood album of all time, Aphex Twin’s 'Selected Ambient Works Volume II' makes me want to poke myself with a sharpened compass at times just to make sure my blood is still flowing. Other times its euphoric delirium though, and the good news is, 'Faking Dreams' is rarely dreary, yet frequently compelling in the most serene sense of the word. Fact: the strongest cuts on 'Faking Dreams' are the ones with the vocals either absent or very low in the mix. Not to sound like a dick here, but I have very little interest in what these guys have to say, and that’s not because I don’t think they are bland people. It’s just because as sonic architects, they’re much more effective than trying to coerce us into paranormal places through some fuzzy references to the beautiful unknown. This is not an ironclad rule throughout the album, but there is a pattern here. The two best songs on 'Faking Dreams' do abide by this decree, however, and the first one I ran across was the title track. 'Faking Dreams' does have vocals, but they’re buried approximately as low as My Bloody Valentine keeps theirs, and just when I started conjuring up images of Ween’s eerie 'Ice Castles' track, Blindfold throws in some muscular guitar that gives the album a fairly solitary stomping ground. Guitars on this record generally float in and out with all the other trembling instrumentation, but hearing it blast out the last thirty seconds of the title track easily proved it to be one of the strongest moments throughout. The second track I think you should skip to is 'Wait', arguably the centrepiece of 'Faking Dreams'. As restrained as it begins, it patiently builds up to an array of guitar-plucking ambience that is as disarraying as it is viciously haunting. I have heard instrumental songs more emotionally jarring than 'Wait', but I could probably count them on one hand. Not as edifying is 'Fit You' or 'Don’t Think It’s a Sin', the former sounding like some Bark Psychosis B-Side, while the latter has some truly gorgeous vocal work by lead vocalist Biggi, and a lyric that perfectly sums up their entire approach to music (“The more I think/the less I know”), but unfortunately the song’s aimlessness, which is usually a sign of strength on this record, just sacrifices any identity the hushed vocals would have normally provided. 'Faking Dreams' is a very worthwhile music, and its best moments are the most understated ones. One thing I found a bit frustrating, is there are definitely enough instances on this album to indicate they can offer more than just an introspective mood piece. The aforementioned title-track, as well as the absolutely brilliant and driving 'Hungary Heart', which rivals the best stuff Interpol has ever done, tells me Blindfold doesn’t have to try and sneak into our subconscious and leave elegantly designed pictures for us to mull over until we’re on to the next paltry, unpleasant detail of everyday life. Maybe I’m reaching here, but I don’t think they’ll ever achieve the savage veracity of a 'Less Than You Think'. Not many can. That’s okay though, because there are many different ways to give us something we can attach a sense of permanence to, and while I appreciated my pleasant exploration of my consciousness through 'Faking Dreams', I’ve been there before. It’s a nice place, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I know it’s tough to tell the difference between heaven and hell these days, but for their next effort, I hope Blindfold doesn’t round up.

Track Listing:-
1 Falleg Depurd
2 Sad Face
3 Faking Dreams
4 Fit You
5 Wait
6 Caffeine & Sleeping Pills
7 Hungry Heart
8 Don't Think It's A Sin
9 Confused
10 Reverse
11 Fit You (Bonus Track From Q Radio Session)

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