Weeping In Fits and Starts: Blue Funnel World

Weeping In Fits and Starts
Blue Funnel World
Rhubarb Records

For one fleeting, splintering moment early into its 65 minutes, Blue Funnel World, by the Boston-based Weeping In Fits and Starts, makes good on its lofty ambition to act as a "response" to Brian Eno's 1975 ambient-pop masterpiece, Another Green World. The winning moment emerges at the tail end of the second track, "My Mind Is Still Gone and I'm Not Even Fried," when the instrumental that makes up most of the song--a three-minute chunk of uninspired indie-rock jingling--gradually erodes until only the bass remains. It's a classic Enoism straight from Green World--an homage to Eno's knack for building his songs up layer by layer and tearing them down until the song itself sinks into the album's soup of sound.

Before the song's bassline has time to die down, main man Greg Jacobs fades in, howling over his tinny acoustic guitar about how he "can't even hold back this passion I despise," in a floating, autumnal melody that recalls Neutral Milk Hotel or Guided By Voices. And, in reverence to Another Green World's evanescent moments of beauty, Jacobs does not overstate his pathos; his performance vaporizes almost as soon as it has etched itself onto the listener's consciousness.

Brian Eno's midperiod gem Green World and its 1977 followup, Before and After Science, were albums that moved like continental drift, inverting the song-segue-song process of Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper's to create incidental albums on which songs developed out of a mix that sounded like one prolonged segue. In this tradition, Weeping in Fits and Starts seemingly pull "My Mind Is Still Gone..." from thin air and hold it long enough to commit what is a mere twinkling to tape.

Perhaps it appears this way only because once that melody floats away, Blue Funnel World fails to achieve such an effect. While Jacobs and Co. carefully handle many of the album's more atmospheric bits (particularly the crackling keyboard drone that serves as its title track and the pensive "Rest"), only "My Mind Is Still Gone..." and the climactic "Pilot on Plane" work as great pop. And it's no coincidence that Blue Funnel World shines brightest when this guitar band works in the straight, indie-pop idiom. When they get lazy--say, in attempting They Might Be Giants-style satire on "Less Screwed People"--their tribute crumbles, and they remind us just how inimitable Brian Eno's green world really is.

 
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