Bill Gould & Jared Blum - The Talking Book (Koolarrow)

The atmosphere that haunts the world of The Talking Book is as palpable as the dust that clogs the grooves of the grainy, crackling vinyl that Bill Gould & Jared Blum have mined for this, their first collaborative work. The Talking Book has the melancholy, sepia-toned feel of a faded old photograph found in a strangers house, full of old ghosts, almost-forgotten memories and a real sense of encroaching decay.

Released Sep 5th, 2011 via Koolarrow / By Paul Robertson
Bill Gould & Jared Blum - The Talking Book (Koolarrow) Gould is more commonly known for his role as bassist for eclectic rock unusualists Faith No More, whereas Blum is the main-man behind the less well known, but in no way less interesting, avant-pop act Blanketship and the musique concrète-influenced Beaks Plinth. Indeed, musique concrète can be felt to have influenced the sounds contained within The Talking Book on quite a fundamental level, being as they are in essence, assemblages of sound from old recordings, manipulated and warped into new sculptural shapes, peeking out from beneath a patina of dust, drone and decayed musical notes. The sombreness and austerity of the sounds herein may come as a surprise to fans of Gould's other work with Faith No More, or his more recent work with Jello Biafra And The Guantanamo School Of Medicine, but then FNM always were a band full of tricksters with a deeper musical agenda than that most often clearly on display.

Each track on The Talking Book is built up from an assemblage of different sounds, tones and textures that are then swathed in a blanket of hissing, granular murk– almost like a form of audio bricolage – to give a uniformly cohesive feel to the whole. Ghostly, ominous pianos, grainy guitars, and murky, deep drones inform most of the album, along with unidentifiable sounds like timestretched distant church bells, fog-bound ship-horns and swells of pure tone that confound the ear. Vocals are absent, save a dread whispering during the fade of 'I Have A Secret To Tell' and the mournful female moaning of 'Maxim', and overt rhythmic beats are present only in part of the deep sub-bass infected 'Notes From The Field' – the rest of the album drifts along in a nebulous, miasmal haze that operates on its own internalised rhythm.

Like a heavily spooked Portishead soundtracking one of David Lynch's more unsavoury dreams, Gould and Blum are exploring haunted soundspaces in an emotive and organic way. The sounds on The Talking Book may have the smell of dust and autumnal decay, but there is a warmth and a heart to them lacking in other explorers of similar realms. The ghosts conjured up by Gould and Blum may be strange and old, but they are welcome and welcoming spectres.