5 songs in 5 minutes. That’s the premise of Silber Media’s 5 in 5 Series, which wanders across the board in terms of genre but sticks to the plan in execution. Fans of Second Language’s Minute Papillon and Jack Chuter’s Signalvoid compilations will find plenty to enjoy here. Even if one doesn’t enjoy them, no big deal; most songs are over in a minute, and each EP ends in five. Samples of each are available on the Silber site, and each 5-minute set costs only $1.
The first installment, Ramora’s I Came to Party, is the least ACL-related release of the series, with dark-throated singing atop a western-inflected backdrop. In some cases, the lyrics are only a line long and reflect their titles: “I Don’t Know”, “I Came to Party”, “Girl I Wanna Date You”. There’s a tenuous connection to post-rock, but we’ve never heard post-rock so short; these songs may be ineligible by length. The feedback-filled “We’re All Filled With Blood” is the best of the batch and the only instrumental.
Mister Science’s Five Educational Minutes is a different beast, a fuzzy electronic batch of synthesized beats and drones. While listening, one gets the impression that any of these tracks could be effective if lengthened, which is the opposite of many current hit electronic tracks, which could use a bit of editing. While all five tracks are solid, the beatless opener “Electrode Potential” and similarly thick closer “Pharmacokinetics” are the most immediately appealing, and operate like halves of a single piece. (Is this cheating?) Middle track “Entomology” is practically begging for an extended remix.
Northern Valentine’s Juno presented the biggest challenge, as the act had grown accustomed to composing extended pieces. Given the chance to work in a different format, the act stretches the boundaries with a two-minute opener, but then has to make up for it with a 10-second piece, a 20-second piece and a reprise. While the sound is decent – a sort of Middle Eastern crunch vibe with guitar – Juno ends up being a 3 1/2 minute track cut in pieces by the design of the format, and one can’t help but think that if the act wanted to bend the rules, a single five-minute piece might have worked better.
Electric Bird Noise uses analogue keyboards to make an imaginary soundtrack – a common choice, but a wise one for the purposes of this project. Much incidental music is often only a minute or so in length, and a pattern with some variation is all that is called for. Not that these songs are particularly memorable outside of their (invisible) context – but they sound like they would work as the scores for short, suspenseful scenes. “First Attack” provides the greatest thrill, while “Main Theme” contains the most flesh. If Icarus City is ever made, it won’t need scoring.
Folk act Drekka turns itself into Drekka Soundsystem for a quick adventure in dub. Apparently, some leopards can change their spots! Vocal echoes haunt the EP, which is more sample-based than overt. The overall effect is plunderphonic. Dub aficionados may recognize some of the sources, but for the rest of us, it’s like listening to a Jamaican party while scuba-diving beneath the pier. This pleasant disorientation makes the latest EP the most creative of the initial batch. We’re eager to hear more, and perhaps a mega-release of the entire series when it’s done. (Richard Allen)