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New Reviews this Week at electronicmusicreviews.com

Life is Full of Possibilities
(Plug Research)

Trying to bridge the gap between the indie and electronic communities, Dntel?s latest album, Life is Full of Possibilities, showcases indie-rock vocalists against comforting electronic loungescapes. While in his quest to create an exciting synergy, Dntel stumbles upon some exciting moments, but as a whole experience only luke-warm results as they rely too heavily on convention instead of innovation (it ends up sounding like an uninspired Unkle-USA).
The first two tracks, ?umbrella? (with Beachwood Sparks? Chris Gunst) and ?anywhere anyone,? (with folk songstress Mia Doi Todd) are sweet with orchestral grace, garnished with floaty beat thumpage. When Dntel is on point he is a formidable student of the shivers-through-music discipline. Unfortunately, these first two tracks set the bar too high, and the love doesn?t properly return until close to the end of the album, leaving the middle a bit vacant.
Overall, the vocals are left mostly untouched, as Dntel often resorts to typical reverbations and smart layering; only upon special and brief occasion do they really get into the voice. Which is unfortunate, and leaves the here-desire for some serious vocalist/laptop collaboration unsatisfied.
While the album is a thoroughly enjoyable listen, don?t look for any groundbreaking work here. Too many moments sound derivative and I had difficulty extracting the Dntel fingerprint from the droning. There are all the warm static crackles, tight beat-hop programming, watery string melodies, cd-skipage, and found-sound ambience we are far too familiar with, but without a distinct voice. The sound palette plays itself out too and you?ll probably find the songs just melding into one another, with little catching your ear off guard along the way. The generally lethargic atmosphere is bumped up a little on ?fireworks,? but with an unfortunately cheesy groove this one?ll just have you reaching for the skip button.
Luckily it ends all smiles with ?the dream of evan and chan? featuring vocals by Death Cab for Cutie vocalist Benjamin Gibbard. His overly sensitive musings here meld well with the driving drums and heavy fuzz squall: cheesy but lovable, the kids?ll go blush over it.
If this had come out a couple years ago Life is Full of Possibilities could have really garnered praise, but next to recent electro-acoustic revelations by the likes of Fennesz and Telefon Tel Aviv, this just seems a bit second-rate. But not to relinquish Dntel of his deserved props, he clearly put a lot of heart and thought into this and it shows. How about collaborations with full bands?
With mild breakout potential, this one should be popular at your local college radio station. While there are some great tracks here (pick it up if you are sad), this just seemed like one big missed opportunity...boo-hoo.

Nathaniel Hawks

New reviews this week featuring Dunderhead, Dntel, Gescom, Lali Puna, and Tim Tetlow. Also, an interview with Mark and Mat from SND. At http://www.electronicmusicreviews.com

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