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Published: 2010/07/19
by Randy Ray

Careful
Oh Light

Sounds Super

There is a simplistic beauty to the new Eric Lindley album that is most profound. One almost feels apt to just sit and stare off into space as if one has lucid-dreamed into some New York museum, and the paintings on the wall are dripping onto the floor, and edging towards one’s feet, resting on the floor off a nearby bench, yards away, pondering it all. Lindley is Careful, of course, and he is neither careful, nor light on these recordings. Instead, the recordings echo nothing/anything but ethereal slices of an afternoon contemplating melancholic bliss amidst a near-silent rainstorm. One sits, or looks out the window, but the songs curl up, and eventually become the soundtrack of your day, week, year, and life (pick your hourglass flow), as good, decent, head fuck music should.

To be sure, this is the music after the aftermath. Rooted in some sort of timeless and delicious dreamscape, which ruminates at its own late 60s/early 10s pace, Careful slides through the exquisite wormhole between artifice and art, and delicately dapples in bedroom binges, coasting along at his own internal patient clip as if this is film music, and one just needs to rifle through the vaults of yesterday’s future to find the right cinematic match, the right imagery to support these ethereal post- Kid A gems. Radiohead pre- and post-influences? Sure. But one also hears a potent self-defined arc.

Lindley often strokes an acoustic and sings, barely above a whisper and damned effective, shimmers along with a tale of eccentric wanderlust on hypnotic avenues of thought (“I Shot an Apple off Her Head” immediately draws one within the Careful world), a gentle half nod to Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel (“Scrappy”), a life changing half gesture to creativity (“Every Epiphany”), and percussion-infused exotica (“Oi, etc.), softly resting next to a luminous world in between the cracks (“Carnival”).

But it is Lindley, aka Careful, very much present throughout in these Oh, Light recordings, that brings the elusive tapestry to soft-lit surface. Wandering between solemn, playful, and effervescent, the musician/composer/artist/robot-maker is witty and sublime without sacrificing his art to rhythm and rock templates. Songs like “Fox and His Friends,” with its bittersweet imagery, “I Loved a Girl but She Loved Me,” with its poignant summations, “We Give Up,” with its drifting and echo-y brilliance, “Turns Out,” with its droning down- and uptempo fluctuations, and “I Shot Smaller and Smaller Fruits Off Her Head,” with its warm and wonky afterglow, beguile the listener, and seal the fate of what appears to be a truly inspired piece of work filled with wonderfully out-of-nowhere instrumentation like toy percussion, mbira, punch-card music-boxes, and that voice, always Lindley’s voice, which appears tethered to that spot on the wall, slowly dripping down, and edging towards the corner of one’s world. Neverending, it is.

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