Slow Dazzle

The View from the Floor (Misra)

Isn't it great when people (music writers, PR flacks, Conor Oberst) confuse the words "electronic" and "experimental"? True, both words start with the same letter, and both are classifiable forms of music, but come on: Using a keyboard does not an experimenter make. If twiddling a few knobs were all it took, we'd all be rubbing shoulders with Aphex Twin and Merzbow.

Which leads us to Slow Dazzle, the "experimental" side project of Shannon McArdle and Timothy Bracy of the marginal alternafolk collective Mendoza Line. The duo has temporarily ditched the twelve-string and pedal steel for a few electronic devices: processed guitar, pitch-bent synths and simple drum-machine beats. The instrumentation can be effective, such as on "Welfare State," wherein the swell of the organ fits nicely against the death-rattle rhythm. But all the experimentation in the world can't hide the fact that this is a singer-songwriting act that can't sing worth a damn: McArdle struggles to stay on key, and Bracy's world-weary affectation is laughable. Maybe the couple is experimenting with atonality, or perhaps they are pushing the limits of boring songwriting. Either way, The View from the Floor is a view best avoided.

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