Keep the Lid on: Texas band revels in change
At what point did fall arrive? Suddenly, the sidewalks were scattered in yellow windfall, the skies set to Liverpudlian gray. I don’t like overlooking subtleties, especially ones of change, and not noticing this one bothered me.
I suppose few 9 to 5 minds actively contemplate the deltas of grass growth and boiling kettles. However, the details of transformation are still worth noting; possibly there’s more to life than before and after pictures.
Stars of the Lid, formed in Austin, Texas, by guitarists Brian McBride and Adam Wiltzie, has sought for eight years to celebrate these gaps, to sextant the listener from A to B in blissful ambience. As Wiltzie once explained, “The original intent [of Stars of the Lid] was to create sound that has never been heard before, to strip down a common sound to make an uncommon structure, to bring the listener closer to the stereo through a visceral environment.”
Haunting, melodic washes explore these hollows. Movement wisps lightly, rippling and dissolving like smoke from a windowsill candle. The drone is celestial, one that rinses the softer sketchings of Gorecki in a California canyon of satellite dishes. The duo cites many influences, ranging from Estonian composer Arvo Part’s Tabula Rasa to slide-guitarist Ry Cooder’s soundtrack for Paris, Texas. Small sections loop in spirogram formation, sometimes telescoping over a span of seven minutes or more.
Stars of the Lid’s sound has set them apart from many; in 1998, it inspired minimalist painter Jon McCafferty to create a series of works inspired by their album Per Aspera Ad Astra. The Ballasted Orchestra and The Tired Sounds of…, their latest two works, net a spectrum of fleeting sensations on the corona of human consciousness– the euphoria of dentist chair nitrous, the Twin Peaks dread of darkened evergreens, etc…. Their hypnotic compositions invite the listener to listen-– to dive away from the crisp, finite standards of radio rock towards the low tides of fermata-infested waters.
Stars of the Lid will be performing at Tokyo Rose this Saturday, November 2, for five dollars. Opening for, and possibly accompanying the band later, will be an educational film montage by cinema artist Luke Savisky, with a soundtrack by Ken Gibson. Charlottesville’s own aural cosmonauts and Pudhouse favorites, Grand Banks, will open for both.
For audio samples and more information on Stars of the Lid, try brainwashed.com/sotl and their label, Kranky, brainwashed.com/kranky.
Stars of the Lid promise a show of unwinding beauty– as breathtaking as these leaves and as constant as the gravity that pulls them earthward.
Stars of the Lid play at Tokyo Rose November 2, 2002. $5, 10:30pm.