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Folk Implosion - The New Folk Implosion Print E-mail
Tuesday, 04 March 2003

Folk Implosion
The New Folk Implosion
format: CD
label: Imusic
release year: 2002
performance: 8
sound 7
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

Image At one point, during the track “Brand Of Skin,” Folk Implosion leader Lou Barlow asks, “What brand of skin do you occupy?” With our familiar Barlow at least, one imagines that this prolific singer and songwriter inhabits a particularly pale and weathered stretch of body covering material; his music is just so consistently troubled most of the time. “The New Folk Implosion” is, in fact, more of the same old

FI, rather than being anything startlingly new. It’s just too late in the game for Barlow to consider changing skins now anyhow, and besides, we’ve already grown to love and appreciate this skinny little slacker.
In the past, Folk Implosion has experimented with various electronic elements and samplings, as it did to great success with the “Kids” soundtrack. But the sounds on this latest installment are primarily of the more organic kind. “Coral,” for example, is acoustic folk, with Barlow singing not unlike David Crosby, and “Creature Of Salt” sails rough musical waves -- over a mix of English folk and progressive rock -- for a kind of newfangled sea chantey. Its lyric reiterates Barlow’s considerable vulnerability. In it, Barlow refers to himself as “a creature of salt/dissolving in front of your eyes.” The track “Pearl” begins with plucked acoustic guitar, which finds Barlow singing a little bit like Beck. It chugs along sort of like a country song, mainly because of its walking bass and ringing keyboard. It ends rather ominously, however, with Barlow vowing to “set this house on fire.”

But there are few fires – at least of any musical kind – set here. “Fuse” is a herky-jerky guitar rocker, which features Barlow’s patented reluctant-sounding vocals, and contains only a small touch of acoustic guitar. “Brand of Skin” soars over electric guitar arpeggios, and surprisingly includes an Edge-like guitar solo. “Leaving It Up To Me” has what sounds like a female robot speaking at its beginning. With lyrics like “Watch another brother fall/watch another friend leave,” it sounds to be a sad commentary on failed personal relationships, and its overall auditory feel is that of a semi-psychedelic rock song.

Whether with Sebadoh, Folk Implosion, or any of his other collaborative configurations, Barlow has usually been associated with the lo-fi musical movement. Although this new project does nothing to warrant the attention of high-fidelity fans, it nevertheless shows an improvement over the sometimes-slapdash output of his previous efforts. The sound here is simple but it’s clear. It may not sparkle like a new jewel, but it at least has a bit of a shine to it.

“The New Folk Implosion” isn’t anything truly new after all; instead, it once again shows off the natural beauty of Lou Barlow’s time-tested artistic skin.

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