US downtempo with occasional flashes of greatness...
Marc Bianchi is not as other men. Unless, due to some unfortunate freak, all
those men are Moby. First off, he swapped Californian hardcore outfit Mohinder
for a life of song-based electronic contemplation. Then he decided to record under
the name Her Space Holiday. Stranger still, when he was putting together this
year’s remix album, ‘Ambidextrous’, he didn’t approach, say, Masters At Work but
Elastica and well-known ‘floor filler Bright Eyes.
On that evidence ‘Manic Expressive’ should be either a) a work of unhinged
genius or b) unbearably pretentious. Unfortunately, it’s neither. Instead, it’s
a rather mousey, introspective record, awash with the wishy-washy sounds of
shoegazing, and yet not without its precise, audacious moments.
‘The Ringing In My Ears’, one the album’s most composed songs, flourishes
magnificently at the end, a rush of drum ‘n’ bass beats, swirling strings and
glorious tangential trumpet. Similarly, ‘Key Stroke’ – glacial, winking lights,
worthy of Schneider TM – and the spoken-samples and Paris-Texas ambient washes
of ‘Spectator Sport’ have a palpable spark.
Too often though, Bianchi’s excellent toiling strings are mere intros to
lethargic songs, wherein he’s just another doleful, navel-gazing American with a
washed-out voice and a few Tortoise albums. While Autechre play quietly on a
transistor radio in the next room.
There’s something here, but it’s unlikely to really flourish until Bianchi uses
bolder colours on a bigger canvas.