REVIEW Lisa Librarian : Lisa Explains It All
Lisa Explains It All quite literally begins with "The Road to Lisa", a droning venture into an ice cave. And as that ice melts, we find frost-bitten remnants of the eighties. It could very well be a lost member of the band New Order, or perhaps it is just an unruly Radio Shack cassette player, driving a nostalgic beat beyond the volume knob with light speaker distortion. It's familiar, though the polish of early synthpop and glare of overdrive have rarely played well together. By the time we hit the "Skylisa", the mixer has gotten its bearings, and delivers a sweet, if morose, melody worthy of any John Hughes protagonist-making montage. With its light vibraphonic effect, it has a little Virgin Suicides flavor, ala the French band Air. "Lisa on the Rocks" follows, with its mono mechanical loop and blunt force bass line.
"From a Hole in the Ground" is a short piece, and feels like an instrumental demo track of sorts. "Lisa De Cinq A Sept" is next, bringing back more of that sad electro-age soundtrack sound that we first heard with "Skylisa". Although minimal, this piano-driven composition with its distorted undertones is an aural delight, and the carefully placed bass chords only elevate this wave of electronic euphoria. I'd mark it as one of the unexpected highlights of this release.
Moving into the garage,"Every Lisa Helps" is a forlorn piece with ugly guitar distortion and a weighted beat. It doesn't seem to really go anywhere, but it is short. "Song for Marie II" is another soundtrackish ride through instrumental Air territory, albeit with a lo-fi bent. With its vinyl noise, canned beat, and repetitive synth/bass lines, "Shishkebab" is yet another short interlude leading up to "Waiting For You", which is the first track to host some human voices. Featuring distorted synth tones and a classic tribal techno beat, this reminds me a little of the 1990 Ambient Collection by Art of Noise.
More spoken samples introduce the next song, titled "Lisa is Confused". Merging a loungy salted rhythm with narrow electric guitars and filtered distosynths, this odd little bachelor pad thinkpiece has me confused, too. But just as I'm ready to pour that cocktail, smoke my pipe, and fuggedaboutit, "Lisa Fucks It Up" with some new age swarming synths riding on overdriven guitar notes. It's another soundtrack worthy addition.
Corking up the fermented bottle of heteromorphic mind-juice that is Lisa Librarian, we have the closing track "Lisa Ist Keinmal", which if online translators are somewhat correct at this minute, translates roughly to "Lisa is No Good". While I will admit that some of the songs on this disc seem to suffer from a little lack of development, or just plain short spans of attention in the studio (and thereby short compositions), there is something sublimely golden in the moody verbing chord progressions of tracks like "Song for Marie II", "Skylisa", and "Lisa De Cinq A Sept". And the addition of vocal snippets to later tracks seemed to improve the cohesion and overall weight of Lisa's style. Strong vocals on the next release might do even more.
As with any artist venturing into lo-fi sound tinkering, it can be difficult to walk that thin line between raw indie "concept-over-console" coolness, and downright "demo-ness". With this release, Lisa sometimes falls off that line, resulting in the occasional tired beat-in-a-can or underhanded distortion. But the potential is certainly there, if for nothing else, to make the next really haunting psychological drama soundtrack.