"Early Works for Me If It Works for You" by Dntel

Dntel
Early Works for Me If It Works for You

Plug Research
2009

Review

Maybe you've never heard of Dntel but maybe you've heard of the Postal Service? That's a side project of Dntel aka James Scott Tamborello aka James Figurine. This is a collection of his early works that has a whopping 40 tracks. Naturally, with so many tracks, there are bound to be some that are more interesting than others. But at their best they sound like sentient computers trying to take over the world who decide to take a break to compose some lovely music in an ironically human touch. Intrigued yet?

The set itself is divided into three different discs. I would classify them as such: Disc 1 is (obviously) inspired by videogames and specifically could very well serve to be the soundtrack to a very edgy RPG. Disc 2 is a chillout album with a drum and bass pulse. Finally, Disc 3 is more akin to current Sonink (ahem, my) faves Flying Lotus and Nosaj Thing. Of the three sets here, I am most partial to the first videogame inspired set. I'm not sure that that is much of a surprise considering I was raised on a healthy diet of music and games. But that's not to say I didn't find stuff to love on the other two discs as well.

Since there are a bajillion tracks on this bad boy, let me talk about my disc-specific highlights:

Disc 1

In Which Our Hero Begins His Long And Arduous Quest - Awesome ambient blips, bloops, and beeps. When I think of robots becoming sentient to make music, this is what I imagine it would sound like. The very essence of chillout music. There's also an interesting 1980's synth vibe to it as well. When electronic music gets repetitive, it becomes boring and this one does a great job of changing it up constrantly without ever sounding like a mashup of disparate songs.

In Which Our Hero Finds A Faithful Sidekick - Sound ominous. Like a soundstrack to a horror movie about robots and vampires that came out in the 1980's (is there such a movie? There SHOULD BE!). Kind of goes into "haunted communication device" mode at the end.

S.O.S. - Probably my favorite of the entire set. Reminds me of something that El-P would create to lay vocals over. I guess because it reminds me of El-P's guest spot on the first Handsome Boy Modeling School.

Disc 2

Loneliness Is Having No One To Miss - See, nobody talks about the good parts of being alone. Thanks for the reminder Dntel! Jokes about titles aside, I loved the drum and bass feel to this one mixed in with the mellow backdrop and melody that hints at a deeper - Endtroducing-esque - edge.

Jewel States "The Door Borders" - This one gives me a real "Thom York does electronic" vibe (The Eraser, anyone?). Although that seems reason enough to me to recommend the track, I'll also say that while listening to it I was very relaxed and happy. Try it out for yourself, no additional stimulants required.

Disc 3

Don't Try - This was the one that was clearly from the "future" for me and that made me think of robots making music. It is ambient to the essence and as such is very relaxing.

Slowdance - It sounds like the backbeat of a dance club from the alley while some truly annoying shit was playing on the main floor. It's like the worst of dance music put through a muddy filter and reduced to something that is actually good - like good intentions that turn into bad music made good again by filtering out the influences that cause it to turn bad. Confused? Me too...moving on.

Fancy Ian - Fascinating Ian would have been more apt. Loving the melodic beeps and blips. Very familiar. Short, but sweet.

In summary, if you have a passing interest in the old electronic goodness there's plenty of it to be found on this collection. It isn't as complicated or layered as anything from Flying Lotus (I like FlyLo, alot, ok...) but being straightforward isn't always a bad thing. Take your favorites and add it to your favorite electronic/chillout/ambient playlist.

3.525 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Loneliness Is Having No One to Miss (04:05)
2. High Horses Theme (04:33)
3. Pliesex Sielking (05:07)
4. Termites in the Bathtub (04:27)
5. Fort Instructions (04:58)
6. Curtains (03:51)
7. Tybalt 60 (03:59)
8. Danny Loves Experimental Electronics (03:59)
9. Sky Pointing (03:55)
10. Casuals (05:11)
11. Winds Let Me Down Again (04:04)
12. Jewel States, "The Door Borders" (04:15)