Wednesday, September 10, 1997

From Our Living Room to Yours

Posted By on Wed, Sep 10, 1997 at 12:00 AM

On some Indian summer days, there's a twilight just before dusk when everything just seems perfect and soothing. It's a moment we've all had that's forever fleeting, a temporary transcendence that comes in soft shades of red and orange.

If ever there was a way to bottle that feeling for repeat visits, it's the music of American Analog Set. The almost faceless quartet's first full-length album -- on the budding Austin label Emperor Jones -- finds it already firmly gripping a sound that is completely its own: lush, quiet melodies that spread out slowly and almost endlessly, with vocals dreamily set adrift almost playing harmony to the music's pull. Sparse but steady guitar work plays above a Farfisa organ.

And the Farfisa is stunning. While the instrument is making a big comeback among bands that use it as a revved-up noisemaker, AmAnaSet's Farfisa sets itself back and steers the ship with a slow and steady tiller. And if that isn't enough understatement, the drummer plays with brushes.

From Our Living Room to Yours is the sound track to either the anticipation felt as dusk falls or the contentment of slipping into bed at dawn. Either way, there is a warmth to the record that shakes off any of the starry coldness generally attached to most space rock-dream pop bands.

It seems so simple, yet it's all so calculated that the band has to have honed it down to a precise point. Most musicians don't make such well-thought-out albums until their third or fourth try -- if ever. From the band's spoken intro that compares the music to fireworks waiting to happen, to the well-planned extra bit of silence that gives listeners a moment to realize how much they needed to catch their breath, AmAnaSet has it all worked out.

At one point we can hear crickets chirping. This almost seems like a trick played by the group as crickets start to appear in the rest of the songs, planted in the listener's mind.

The song title, "Using the Hope Diamond as a Doorstop," one of the many great titles on this album, may just be the best way to sum up American Analog Set -- complete beauty, working in the humblest ways and utterly flawless.

Jason Fuller writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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