Selected Malls & Scenic Byways / Requiem For An Encyclopedia

George & Caplin

Beta-Lactam Ring Records, 2010

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


George & Caplin definitely do not reach a new creative height with this release, but they seem to want to scratch some experimentative itch with a double-disc offering. Disc two (titled Requiem For An Encyclopedia) is a 11-minute piece, cut up into tiny chunks of identical music pieces that keep repeating (12 tracks in all) with small variations in each version. The tracks can be shuffled every which way to form new songs, and ever so slightly different versions of the disc; it’s quite a novel concept indeed. But the first disc – the actual album – is the real meat and a less radical way of consuming this CD set. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The duo doesn’t want to get too comfortable in its folky indie lo-fi skin, or that’s what it seems like, with their different musical approach on Selected Malls & Scenic Byways, disc one of the double CD set.

Selected Malls has a much denser overall sound, which is far less earthy than the organic folksiness that the band’s previous efforts so eloquently managed to incorporate. In this mostly instrumental record, with all but three numbers having vocals, the instrumentals have a surreal quality, with the muted instruments making beautiful but slightly spooky sounds. In this manner, Selected Malls is a darker and more mysterious record than the band’s previous ones.

Comforting acoustic guitars still dominate the musical landscape of this record. But the electric guitars make Selected Malls an ominous “George & Caplin” record, with “Sleep Deep” being the most morose amongst the tracks. The vocals are melancholic and dreamy. Like a shoegazer or a trip-hop act, the vocals definitely don’t have even a hint of cheer. Although “Goth” is not a term one would use in association with George & Caplin, but Selected Malls definitely has some Goth bone on it.

Requiem For An Encyclopedia / Selected Malls is George & Caplin’s most sonically rich and most elaborate work yet. Underneath the deceivingly “ambient” exterior, the musical tapestry is exquisite and beautiful. This is the band’s best work, without doubt.

Rating: A-

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© 2010 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Beta-Lactam Ring Records, and is used for informational purposes only.