Boom Bip

Blue Eyed in the Red Room

(Lex; 2005)

By Chet Betz | 2 February 2005

Boom Bip sure knows how to open an album. “Cimple” is simplicity and a cymbal, alternating notes of fuzz sweltering to a boil with a ringing guitar, a heavily processed beat, and Vangelis painting skyscrapers neon. A reprieve allows Boom Bip to reset and begin introducing another round of sounds to light up over the drum pulse. This is the sort of song that shatters when it hits the ear canals, its shards creating kaleidoscopic flashes on the insides of eyeballs.

Bip clings to that banner that he announces himself with. Mostly, everything’s live instrumentation that sounds like loops building on top of each other, towers of crystal building blocks that reach a peak meant to obstruct the sun into colored arcs and lens flare. Structurally, the music’s as straight as train tracks, and the momentum ever increases as Boom Bip chucks block after block of fuel into his sound engine. Yes, Blue Eyed in the Red Room is the sort of album that unabashedly invites mawkish mouthfuls of metaphor.

Does grandiosity sit next to godliness on the hierarchy of transcendence, though? In his eagle-winged soaring, Boom Bip burns a few feathers for Icarus with the hi-fi Beta Band B-side jam of “Do’s and Don’ts,” featuring an atonal performance from SFA’s Gruff Rhys; the overreaching subsequently results in a fall to more staid plains where songs like “Girl Toy” dance petty rings around roses with too cute key programming. “Dumb Day” jangles sharp string thrums well with organ but goes a bit too far when the seraphs start singing and loses its thrust in a fade-out/fade-in around the three minute mark.

“Eyelashings” runs its first Roman Candle act over a guitar sound that could be Nick Zinner sleeping before a fluid bass line reroutes the music into a maelstrom of uber-treble amp squalling and plinking key notes. At over six minutes, though, the song lacks the sort of focus and compositional poise that makes Boom Bip calling cards of songs like “Cimple.” As hard as it tries, “One Eye Round the Warm Corner” is too precious to affect the listener’s mood, and it prominently features some squeaky fret noises that are one hell of a brand of annoying.

“Aplomb” chains squeals and chugs of noise to a propeller of a rhythm before suddenly and unfortunately dying so that the album can close with an anthem for the jaded New Age DJ, “The Matter (Of Our Discussion).” As boringly as possible, Nina Nastasia intones, “I don’t believe in the power of love… I don’t believe in a God or the mind,” and apparently she also doesn’t believe in something that sounds like “the wisdom of stars.” Good for her. Boom Bip’s backing is a mush of synth washes and all things tinkling and shining. For all those who love art gallery ideas like “negative space,” here is their Enya song.

While not any real cause for concern amongst Boom Bip fans, Blue Eyed in the Red Room is not the masterpiece that they might be hoping for. It’s one of those albums wherein the artist tries out a few different things while in California. If it could be summed up with any one instrument, that one instrument would probably be an autoharp.