Thursday, November 16, 2006

In Case You Forgot: David Thomas Broughton- The Complete Guide To Insufficiency

You ever have one of those albums that you love to death and try to tell all your friends about, but people just look at you like you're weird? David Thomas Broughton's debut, The Complete Guide To Insufficiency became one of my favorite albums ever the first time I put it on. My interest was piqued by Coke Machine Glow's Best of 2005 list (which placed him ahead of Bonnie Prince Billy, The White Stripes, Okkervil River, Broken Social Scene, Ryan Adams, Silver Jews, The Constantines and yes, even Kanye, mind you). Upon first listen of opening track "Ambiguity," a couple of things stand out to you. First is the atmosphere created by recording in Wrangthorn Church and adding some backwards looping to a simple guitar line - at once organic and alien, mysterious yet beautiful. (Descriptors that make sense throughout the 5 tracks and 40 minutes of music.) There's a comforting sense of antiquity that is inviting - it sounds like a relic of forgotten times and people. The repetitious guitar line is hypnotizing, and begins to border on monotony around the 2:00 mark.

But then he sings. And his voice teems with years, decades or centuries of heartbreak, anguish and pain. It's like Antony without the primadonnaness, or a more emotive David Byrne. It doesn't sound quite human - far more resonant and majestic. You can't help but be taken back by the beauty, as if it were the voice of some supernatural being. And then his voice loops over itself, and there's David Thomas Broughtons everywhere. Just check out the end of "Ever Rotating Sky." Plus he does it all while looking like this.

Then you'll google the guy's name, and read that the entire album was reportedly recorded in one sitting, with a guitar, a few looping tools, a drum machine and Broughton's otherworldly voice.

Couple that with lyrics that walk a fine line between macabre and lovely you didn't know existed (I wouldn't take her to an execution/I wouldn't take her to a live sex show/I wouldn't piss or shit on her, would I/Because I love her so), and you have one of the more disarming, unique and strangely beautiful albums of the last decade. While it gets unfairly grouped with more shticky "freak-folk" albums, The Complete Guide To Insufficiency is most definitely unlike anything I've heard in that genre or any others. Give it a chance.

David Thomas Broughton- Ambiguity
from The Complete Guide To Insufficiency

David Thomas Broughton- Ever Rotating Sky from The Complete Guide To Insufficiency


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