Friday, December 31st, 2010

AMNESTY WEEK 2K10: Samuel and the Dragon – Diamonds on a Boat

This lot are so under the radar that they’ve apparently split already…


Michaelangelo Matos: James Taylor meets rockers uptown.

Iain Mew: Soundwise this was largely pre-empted by Faultline ft. Chris Martin 8 years ago, but it’s sooo well done that it stands out as my favourite song by a new act in years. Already a thing of gorgeous and mysterious longing from Samuel’s vocals and the soft synth pulses washing over, the way that he’s periodically beset with mechanical whirring and electronic sawing lends a whole new shade of haunting desperation. The tension that’s built for the the seconds of silence in the middle is incredible, emptiness stretching out and out until it finally ends with the emergence of a beat which now sounds thunderous.

Martin Skidmore: An odd and intriguing sound, kind of like minimalist trip hop, white soul singing over odd buzzes and clicks and occasional synth chords. I guess it stands or falls on how much you engage with the vocal, and while I started out feeling almost captivated, I lost interest soon when it went nowhere.

Chuck Eddy: One point for the synthesizer (the only thing giving this any life at all, and it doesn’t give much), zero for the singer. Who is unbearable.

Mallory O’Donnell: I’ll admit that I don’t really understand the whole post-Dave Matthews thing. But I’ll be damned if I let it infect my precious synthpop. Synthpop dudes are either properly gay or far more interested in cocaine and, like, art than college girls. Those are the rules. They are never trying to get laid so clearly as this douche. And they certainly never sound like they’d be caught in the bare naked light of dawn with an acoustic guitar (or a drum machine) and a song they just wrote… about you. Makes Hurts sound positively butch.

Alex Macpherson: Creaky like a door in an abandoned house swinging open, the diamonds of this song seem not luxurious, but as ancient as their carbon history. I prefer 8Bitch’s remix, which magnifies the song’s odd floating-in-space qualities and turns the backing into something both prettier and more disquieting.

Anthony Easton: Beautiful is one of those words where, if you have to say it, then it most likely does not exist. Though this is supposed to be eerie, evocative, maybe a bit melancholic, its buzzing and crooning leads towards a kind of obsessive and narcissistic obsession with his own skills as a seducer.

Katherine St Asaph: You meet someone, and she is beautiful. There are a few ways to proceed. You could approach her. You could bound off, clanging and clattering toward the street where she lives. Or you could crawl back home late to stare at screens, the hard drive ticking in the background as you try to find her face among the pixels. Maybe she’ll call, but probably not; you can see when she’s online, which she isn’t, nor might she be. Maybe you’ll call, but probably not; besides, it’s quiet enough in the room to murmur what you might have said. It’ll be too long, too unwieldy. You’ll talk too much about beauty and lies and won’t even keep straight who’s got the phone when. Eventually you’ll catch on some phrase like “this is the diamond of the dark,” get too loud for the room and recoil. You can lose entire days this way, but you know why you do it. If you keep still long enough, something might find you.

Jer Fairall: The grind of the film projector, a trick already deployed throughout Gnarls Barkley’s St. Elsewhere, creates the lonely feeling of some obtuse foreign art film unreeling at a near-empty, crumbling cinema, quite the opposite of Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse’s Technicolor fantasias. Works for a while as a mood piece, but as a song it’s disappointingly anti-climatic, the barely elevated pulse that follows the moment of mid-song silence the sonic embodiment of that old Oscar-Brotman-by-way-of-Roger-Ebert rule: “If nothing has happened by the end of the first reel… nothing is going to happen.”

Zach Lyon: Just eccentric enough to skate by entirely on eccentricity.

Jonathan Bogart: A triumph of production over song; I could lose myself for hours in the soundscape, but for the pesky people moaning over it.

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