There’s bliss to be found in emptiness. Contentment is a great, blank mental space which is often to be found in the midst of the most mundane pursuits. And hence the essence of ‘The Gasoline Age’, the fourth album by sometime [a]Lambchop[/a] associate FM Cornog. It’s a record of almost narcoleptic restraint; a record where nothing happens. Slowly. Cornog‘s great stylistic coup – the use of driving as a metaphor for humanity – is handled with almost superhuman understatement. Here is a sequence of songs which celebrates car journeys leading nowhere (save for the gargantuan sprawl of ‘Atlantic City (Gonna Make A Million Tonight)’ – the final track); ‘Sure,’ it seems to be mumbling, ‘we’re all bound for oblivion in the end, but it’s worth sticking around for the ride.’
As you might expect, growing from a premise of such homespun philosophical clarity, the music which wraps itself around Cornog‘s little travelogues is possessed of a sense of glacial calm and moments of effortless serenity. Sporadic flurries of guitar and sleepy rhythms give way to endless vistas of Neu!-like electronics, a great, open, midnight freeway of sound, punctuated by streetlights and the occasional truck stop drifting by.
In the darkest hours, then, it’s worth remembering that the lost highway of happiness is only a mental car journey away. Exceptional.