Tuesday, December 1, 2009

John Vanderslice - Pixel Revolt

John Vanderslice – Pixel Revolt
Barsuk, 2006
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2006
Price: $20

Why someone would sell a personally autographed copy of a record is beyond me. So, my copy of this excellent record with gorgeous cover art is marred by a signature and a “To: Liz Browne <3” style="font-style: italic;">Pixel Revolt.

Most importantly, this is a record about personal interaction. How we interact with others, and how we maintain ourselves and how we survive when nothing is safe anymore. “Exodus Damage” is the perfect example of this, and one of the finest songs on the record. There's a lot of loneliness, notably on “Peacocks in the Video Rain” (“I'm only lonely through and through”) and “Trance Manual,” a tune about a journalist hiring a prostitute in Baghdad. The sequencing is brilliant too. Look at the absolutely graceful almost ambient “New Zealand Pines” followed by Vanderslice's rousing adaptaition of Robert Lowell's “Fall 1961,” “Radiant With Terror,” which is a perfect document to contrast cold war America with Post-9/11 America.

Anyway, I could write an essay about this. I should have, I had to write a paper about a post-9/11 artifact for an American studies class and this would have been perfect. On top of that, it's JV's most perfect record. It features lyrical assistance from John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats and title help from David Berman of the Silver Jews. The vinyl version features the bonus track “The Kingdom” sequenced into the record, which took a while to grow on me when I downloaded it but eventually it did and it's a really nice surprise to find it on this record. It's a nice break from “Continuation” and “Dear Sarah Shu,” which just might be the best track on the record. The final three tracks are brilliant, and it's really great that he didn't just tack “The Kingdom” on at the end, which would have ruined the beauty of “Dead Slate Pacific”/ “The Golden Gate” and the reprieve “CRC7173, Affectionately,” which ends the record on an upbeat note, even though that note is about our reliance of pharmaceuticals to solve all our problems. The record is on two gorgeous, heavy, 180 gram slabs of wax and naturally, in typical JV fashion, everything was recorded analog and dubbed to vinyl as such. Though JV has made his name for himself as a producer, analog junkie and tech geek, his records are always consistently solid and he has a unique, auteuristic quality to his songwriting. And I look forward to his records with great enthusiasm.


  1. Okay- it is marred and I know that is a risk when buying used music. But it was an egomaniacal study in knowing how great the ablum is to wanting to share it with someone, and selling it was the only way. I have pictures of me and JV from the show, too.

  2. I was upset that you had to sell such a precious and rad artifact. That must have been hard. Know though, that it is in good hands that will love and cherish it!