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Published: 2004/08/27
by Brian Gearing

More Talk About Tonight – Slang

Terminus Records 0404-2

Widespread Panic is currently taking a break, but with everything Dave Schools has going on, he's busier now than he's ever been with his day job. One of his many side projects, Slang is the most far afield from his Panic output. More Talk About Tonight, the second release from this collaboration with Layng Martine III, as well as other guests like Matt Abts, DJ Logic and Vic Chestnutt, is an eccentric journey through the inner confines of two very imaginative minds.

Consisting mostly of snippets and snapshots, More Talk About Tonight is like a long Saturday morning, drifting in and out of sleep, alternating images bouncing back and forth between the recesses of consciousness and dreaming as the mind floats intermittently between sleeping and waking. The opener, "Party For the Underdog," encapsulates the entire album. Jay Rodriguez’s bagpipe-like sesame cane flutes and DJ Logic’s erratic bleeps, blips and scratches fill an eerie void with dissonance and noise while three guitars occasionally lend some semblance of melody to Matt Abts’ plodding drum loop. It is at once ethereal and grating, like a nightmare from which you’re not sure you want to wake.

The entire album explores both ends of this dichotomy, drifting through empty fog and open sky on "Ode To Love Sickness," full of slow, introspective guitar meditations, and "Good 'n Evil," which meanders through fusionesque free jazz layered with Floydian guitar ambience and near eastern soprano sax. "Escalator" and "Cold Winter's Day" come closest to traditional song structure as Vic Chestnutt muses abstract over mandolin and acoustic guitar on the former, and Lori Carson's soft, haunting vocals jazz it up on the latter. The horns, organ and hand-claps of "When She's Gone" try to get the party going about halfway through the disc, but no one's really in the mood by this point.

Even the songiest tracks on this album are ghostly and spare, but despite its elusiveness, More Talk About Tonight is also accessible and warm. Equal parts Amnesiac, In a Silent Way, and Meddle, this album is artsy self-indulgence at its best. "Champions Of Leisure" and "The Bitter Pills" shape a comforting mold perfectly fitted to the space between headphones, and the cheery rock flight of "Kite Theme" is one of many upbeat moments that are snuck into the mix right at the last minute and just at the right time.

By far Schools' most experimental side project, Slang is inexplicably alluring. It is haunting and sad, lonely and lonesome, but also uplifting and joyful, solitary and satisfying. Exploring the darkest and lightest corners of the creators' most vivid surrealist dreams, More Talk About Tonight is a Zen study in paradox. Built on contradiction and reconciliation, it is full of discovery, with new ones made upon every new listen. Though disjointed and anecdotal, it is best listened to from start to finish, with no distractions, in a quiet, dark room, full of nothing but the endless possibilities it suggests.

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