The Durutti Column
Love in the Time of Recession
Label: Fulfill LLC
It took me three spins to attentively experience each track on Love in the Time of Recession. Frontman Vini Reilly steers The Durutti Column’s vehicle into familiar territory, but this latest brainchild is a demanding exercise hardly fated for the ADD-plagued YouTube generation. The groove-laden “In Memory of Anthony,” dedicated to Reilly’s late mentor Tony Wilson, soulfully kick-starts Recession on an atypically upbeat note. First-time Durutti listeners will promptly realize this to be a deceptively supernova-like energy burst. The album quickly, and literally, dissolves into an elegiac montage of meditative drums and wispy chamber guitars that vagrantly intersect in a sloppy matter-of-fact confidence, boasting a profundity too cloudy to comfortably sludge through even in multiple sittings.
Dominating the run time are extended instrumental passages often directed by Reilly’s drizzling, clean-tone pluckings that shiver and pop homogenously in the melody-deprived aura. Starting with “More Rainbows” and barring a couple proceeding exceptions, Recession repeats unfocused track after track with tangential, slipshod arrangements lacking the compositional feel and closure of the band’s previous work. Stray guitar and keyboard notes spat around “Painting” and “Make Rainbows” in what Durutti purists will inevitably call fastidious masterpieces. I call it excessive reverb diarrhea. Here and there, Reilly whispers some stanzas that are nearly swallowed up in the meditative ambiance, but too often there’s nary a solid chunk of sound or melody to identify with. Take, for example, “Wild Beast Tamed,” an exploratory guitar/piano interplay that passes through key changes and chord progressions so profusely that each proceeding moment loses all connotation. The classical/pop hybrid incorporates elements too conflicting to amount to anything remotely accessible or pleasurable for the listener.
Naturally, this doesn’t mean Reilly has nothing to say here. The Sting-ish new age aesthetic in “I’m Alive” is juxtaposed against Reilly’s pining for a deeper meaning to life than technological inundation: “God bless America/ I may be yours as well/ But if you listen really closely/ At what I’m trying to sell/ Information highways/ 20 billion voices breathe/ And all I want to do now/ Is watch the sky and dream/ Is that all right?” How unfortunate that ear-strained listeners may quickly give up deciphering his clashing, unintelligible voice engulfed in the convoluted shoegaze echo.
More than ever, The Durutti Column seem content in hearkening back to their early roots. With such a bountiful discography accumulated after three decades now, it seems unlikely that Reilly would conduct things any other way. Which is ironic, because for such an ill-conceived album, Recession can’t even connect successfully on these familiar levels. Those looking for an escape from their own recession should search elsewhere; this one will leave you as frustrated as your bank account does.
by Jory Spadea