Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Album Review: Pavement 'Brighten The Corners - Nicene Credence Ed.' released 18/11/08

Completists rejoice, Domino have kept up with their millennium promise of a Pavement reissue every two years with reissue no. 4, ‘Brighten The Corners: Nicene Credence Edition’.

The original Brighten The Corners was released back in 1997, as Pavement hit their early thirties. They were all living in different cities by this time and made the exception to come together for recording, which evidences itself in the aural completeness of this, their fourth album. In true Pavement fashion, the record is snailpaced, embracing a kind of lazy lysergia that washes over rather than arrests. In many ways Malkmus et al were the underground band of the nineties – they embodied a kind of commercially unconcerned, stoner-rock materialist discontent with modern life, that manifested itself in Malkmus’ dry wit and Kannberg’s deliciously cyclical, unhurried guitar work. The British musical underground were to draw extensively from their intentionally lo-fi sound, with many bands including Blur and Radiohead citing Pavement as a major influence.

Unlike Pavement’s fifth and final album, Terror Twilight, which was completely written (and almost completely credited to) frontman Stephen Malkmus, two of Kannberg’s best contributions to the Pavement compendium appear here in ‘Date With IKEA’ and ‘Passat Dream’. That the duo were still working under the guise of a songwriting partnership during ‘Brighten The Corners’ sessions manifests itself in the balance of band components, with ample space given to instrumental noodling that is indelibly stamped with a heady Californian languor. It was as Malkmus began to overshadow his bandmates towards the end of the decade, with Terror Twilight, that Pavement began to fall apart.

Brighten The Corners, featuring perhaps Pavement’s best known work in ‘Shady Lane’ and ‘Stereo’, showcases the band at its most cohesive. This year’s reissue features two discs containing the whole of the 1997 record remastered from the original tapes, plus all the B-sides and compilation tracks from that period, and a plethora of unreleased live and studio tracks, numbering an impressive 43 tracks in total. Some of the most exciting new material to surface is in the outtakes and live recordings of Pavement’s 1997 John Peel Live Sessions – evidence of Peel’s continued support of a band that he championed right from their roots in the early nineties. The CDs come in an embossed slipcase with a 62-page book containing photos, ephemera, writings and more. Just in time for Christmas...

No comments: