CD Review of Avoiding the Consequences by A Shoreline Dream

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Avoiding the Consequences
starhalf starno starno starno star Label: Latenight Weeknight Records
Released: 2006
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For movie fans, there is nothing more grating than a bad epic. Take “Wyatt Earp,” for example. Not only was that a poorly written, unentertaining pretentious mess, it was a long and boring poorly written, unentertaining pretentious mess. Avoiding the Consequences, the debut CD by post-rock duo A Shoreline Dream is its musical equivalent. Aggressively bad, this coma-inducing failure of ambient rock music is a better cure for insomnia than a handful of Ambien and a bottle of hard liquor.

A sad attempt to recreate the sound of Godspeed You Black Emperor or Sigur Ros, A Shoreline Dream is a bland, boring trip into post/prog rock that even the most die-hard minimalist might have a hard time getting into. Thirteen tracks of near-identical soundscapes litter this CD, and while occasional bursts of noise pop up from time to time, this overly-mellow wasteland of ambient rock sounds is about as entertaining as that previously mentioned Kevin Costner epic.

There are two kinds of songs on Avoiding the Consequences, the slow boring ones and the boring slow ones. Beat and melody occasionally creep into the mix, like on “Focus The Present” and “Peel You Open,” but it almost seems to be by accident – as if they were trying to record several minutes of guitar feedback and moaning vocals but somehow an actual song snuck in there. The rest of the album is composed almost entirely of mind-numbingly drawn out vocal moans, echo-laden guitars, and the all-too-occasional bass line or drum beat.

Sigur Ros have proven that when shoegazing ambient rock is done right, it’s great. A Shoreline Dream prove that when shoegazing ambient rock is done wrong, it’s bad. Really bad. Songs start slow and end slow. Climaxes, tempo changes and even the occasional verse or chorus try to break through the constant mellow assault on the senses, but fail every time. Sigur Ros (a band that when even at their best can be a bit on the annoying side) and other, better, bands of this ilk understand that when you perform music like this, you have to be building to something. Compare the beautiful Sigur Ros song “Vidrar Vel Til Loftarasa” to a track on Avoiding the Consequences. “Virdar” starts out nearly non-musical, with just the occasional piano note piercing through the subtle ambient landscape. Things slowly build, with vocals, guitars and a barely audible beat slowly making their way to the forefront. The song then explodes into an ecstatic/tragic explosion of noise before quickly quieting down again. The songs of A Shoreline Dream start slow and tedious and end even slower and more tedious. When they build towards a climax or crescendo, it never comes, creating an utterly frustrating and confusing experience.

Avoiding the Consequences, with its constant building towards nothing except disappointment and boredom, is much like really bad oral sex – going on for way too long, with no variety and no payoff at the end, leading to frustration and anger for everyone involved. But at least with a bad blowjob, you have the hope that things might get better.

~James B. Eldred