“You’re listening to Yes?”
“No, I’m listening to some Thing.”
“Why won’t you just tell me what it is?”
“I just did.”
This variation on a classic gig (itself a variation on another classic gig) is bound to play out around the release of this new album from Petter Lindhagen, who has taken the bold move of changing timbres for this project. There was always a little bit of downtempo in the output of Tired Tape Machine, but now the sound is a better match for the moniker. The turning point was last year’s Above Sea Level, on which Lindhagen’s ambient folk morphed into electronic shoegaze. On Thing, the music borders on trip-hop, with a nod to Flying Lotus.
Singles “He’s Gone” and “Stitch” have already paved the way. “He’s Gone” offers more percussion than TTM fans are used to hearing, confidently stopping and restarting, providing the framework for the vocal samples and holding the fort for the horns. “Stitch” ~ also the album’s leadoff track ~ incorporates cowbells and claps, establishing a synth melody before Billie Lindahl starts to sing, “a stitch in time.” Proverb fans finish the line: “saves nine.” The video also refers to a fixed point in time: a memory, an incident, a mind loop.
The album bears a curious melancholy, borne by the lyrics. The title track features the slowed vocal, “why is there anything instead of nothing?” It’s interesting to hear an artist who is moving forward by looking back. This has, however, been the dominant musical trajectory of the past two years. Even the cheeriest-sounding title, “Green Grass,” is welded to a sluggish tempo. This torpor occupies the center of the album, which slowly struggles toward spring.
“Get Yourself Together” may be a message the artist is relating to himself or to all of us: it’s time. We believe this is the best incarnation of Tired Tape Machine to date, even though it may not be the last; perhaps it’s time to break out of our own stagnancy as well. (Richard Allen)