Night Control: "Star 131"
By Chris Molnar | 12 March 2009
If you ask me, lo-fi will always sound better than the clean professional tracks your “friends in a band” recorded with their trust funds/drug money, only to make some CD-Rs everyone will throw away when they’re not looking. Whether by necessity or if you spent a wad on the wobble, warmth in music is priceless.
In the case of Night Control there’s a bit more than warmth. Rather, it feels like tape loops of pure good vibes summoned out of various musical archetypes and fed through a shag carpet of reverb and background thrum, stopping short of affectation—just keeping everything loose and out of your face. The 8-track Zeppelin drums sink to the bottom of the mix, under acoustic picks and piano until the cymbals are set to cruise on the chorus, trebly enough for the hymn-perfect chord changes. There’s no way to tell what Chris Smith is actually singing, but the mumbly echo lets the focus fall on pop structure so delicious it hurts a little bit inside. “Star 131” is six minutes long, but wait through the part where the piano falls apart. There’s a guitar solo at the end, and it sounds like Neil Young waking up in the morning.
It’s kind of weird that we’ve got to the point where the big music-sound breakthroughs are all about how to perfect sounding imperfect, not to mention that by now there have been enough generations of dudes at the dials that some guy’s home recording project can sound better than most Rick Rubin-compressed reunion albums. Blah blah the internet, blah blah the world is inverting on itself. Listen to this song and feel a little bit better about the way the humanity is going.