Monday, August 11, 2008

Thoughtful and Cooperative

D+, What Is Doubt For,
Knw-Yr-Own Records

D+ represents democracy
in action. Bret Lunsford
(Beat Happening) found-
ed the band, but on the
evidence of their six full-
lengths to date, he doesn't
lead in the traditional sense.

For some groups that might spell anarchy, but in this case, Lunsford, Karl Blau, and Phil Elverum (Microphones, Mt. Eer-
ie) all sing. In fact, they often share vocals within songs, and their voices are just different and similar enough that this approach works wonderfully well. All three have an intense yet laconic style; they can harmonize, but you can still tell them apart.

So, if the vocals are fairly "neat," as it were, the arrange-
ments can get a little messy. "Wishful Thinking," for in-
stance, comes off like two or three tracks played at once.
That isn't, however, a bad thing, and Lunsford acknow-
ledges that songs often take shape during jam sessions.

In the end, though, they do take the form of finished
songs, not doodles or sketches (although Guided by
Voices managed to build an entire career out of that
sort of thing). D+ never recalls Beat Happening, but
there's still a minimalist aesthetic at work, resul-
ting in brief silences between notes and words.

It's easy to say that D+ sounds
so thoughtful and cooperat-
ive, because they're based in An-
acortes, rather than Seattle, Port-
land, or even Olympia (where
Beat Happening hung their hats).

Maybe it's even lazy to make that claim, but I'm sure there's some truth behind it. When I interviewed Lunsford earlier this year, he admit-
ted, "Olympia was almost over-stimulating. I'm happy to be home and have all of these creative friends around me. It is all very rich."

And yet, as the title indicates, he still has his doubts. Not
about Anacortes or about his friends, but about life. And
not about whether it's worth living, but how best to live it.

In "Certainty," Lunsford asks questions, like "I don't
think I know who you are," "I don't think I know
that I failed," and "I don't think I know where
I'll be." In "Wishful Thinking," he notes,
"Think I think, but I ignore more."

There's as much thinking going
on as asking. Like most of us,
he's unlikely to find the ans-
wers any time soon, but at
least he's on the right path.

Click here for my review of
D+ - On Purpose: 1997-2007

Endnote: Images from Knw-Yr-Own Records.

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