Contrasts are a beautiful thing. They trigger emotion like not much else, close your eyes on a sunny day and the sun looks ten times brighter when you open them again. Play a beautiful piece of music on a funeral and the memories will collide with the loss in the most intense way ever. Same with music, when people like Fennesz, Tim Hecker, or Yellow Swans recently, transform a sea of noisy static into a precious melodic wash, the feeling can get extremely intense. One of the key elements for succes when working with these opposites is the notion of not being able to grasp the beauty of it. How it subtly creeps up from behind to leave you flabbergasted. That?s what makes you come back to those Fennesz albums over and over again.
Parts & Labor guitarist/electrician Dan Friel acknowledges the emotion through contrast factor but his approach is a lot different than previously named musicians. Fennesz constantly balances on a thin line between dirty sheets of noise and gorgeously erupting prettiness, chosing a gradual transformation. Dan Friel on the other hand takes a planned structure, which often comes down to a song-based shape, and embellishes it with thick smears of candy coated noise. Subtle, this is not.
It?s the noise part though that might be misleading, to devoted Prurient lovers at least. Friel?s noise isn?t so much about punishing/suffering, this is electro-popped noise. Never harsh nor intimidating. Friel?s approach is about playfulness much more than it is about fear. So when opener ?Ghost Town Pt.1? marches in with its blunt bass and electrocuted xylophone melodies it?s closer to heaven than it is to hell. This playful approach is present throughout the whole album but especially the first three tracks, culminating in, ?Buzzards? the most swaying musicbox-electro anthem this side of Caribou.
A bit more in a noise vein is the sandpaper machine grind of ?Singing Sand? (yes you can take that literally), three minutes of faux-noise that should have been a lot uglier than it is. Friel finally shows he?s capable of restraint by letting album closer ?Horse Heaven? breathe a bit. A melancholic built up that never ends with what sounds like a processed vocal mantra or delayed organs. A serene come down to the rest of the album?s bouncy core. At last Friel makes use of space and a slight bit of tension to create something that pretty much transcends the rest of the album. 5/10 -- Joris Heemskerk (16 July, 2008)