The Last Place To Go
The collective known as the Boxhead Ensemble is a distinguished contingent
of minimalist mavericks affiliated with Chicago's Drag City label. This
eclectic array of musicians-- Edith Frost, Will Oldham, Mick Turner, Eleventh
Dream Day's Rick Rizzo, and others-- have combined their efforts to create
a truly moving accompaniment to the acclaimed documentary entitled "Dutch
Harbor: Where the Sea Breaks its Back." Often, these sort of moody
atmospherics may compliment a particular film or visual piece perfectly.
But, in many cases, when random chunks of instrumental music are dislocated
from the characters, images and storyline they're supposed to accentuate,
the end result isn't always so compelling.
The Last Place To Go is a rarity, though: these instrumentals were
composed live during the European screenings of the "Dutch Harbor" documentary,
and the tracks can easily stand alone and be appreciated apart from their
on-screen context. These loosely- constructed, sometimes amorphous compositions
somehow bleed effortlessly into one another. In fact, you could even say
The Last Place To Go shares a kinship with the stark, slightly
foreboding score Sonic Youth composed for the Richard Linklater- directed
dark comedy "Suburbia."
The cold, wintery guitars of Mick Turner and Scott Tuma dominate the
instrumentation, and convey an appropriately desolate feel. Many of the
compositions themselves are built almost solely upon deliberate, trickling
streams of echo-laden guitar lines and Fred Lonborg-Holm's droning cello.
Turner and Tuma's delicately- picked arpeggios leave plenty of colored space
in between notes. This subdued guitar work is sometimes augmented with some
rough- edged violin, and Will Oldham's whispering harmonica. The occasional
free-jazz drum fills and minimal cymbal flourishes make for an almost
non-existent rhythmic or percussive base.
The instrumental interludes on The Last Place To Go are undeniably
hypnotic, and mirror the deceptive simplicity, mystery and sense of isolation
surrounding the secluded Dutch Harbor fishing community-- located on a remote
island in Alaska's Aleutian Chain. The score does favor a plaintive tone for
the most part; yet its free-form aesthetic allows a few brighter melodic moments
to beam through. In some instances, the lifeless, almost ghostly testimonials
of a few Dutch Harbor inhabitants are set against reverb- drenched delayed
guitar and near- subliminal cello. Don't be suprised if you're left with a
slight chill down your spine.
In a nutshell, the Boxhead Ensemble's The Last Place To Go is anything
but your average, run- of- the- mill Mark Knopfler-ized film score. So string
up some christmas lights, lounge on the sofa with an old Salinger novel and
drink up some cappucino. You're a hipster, goddamnit!
"Dust and Rain"
[Real Audio Stream]