The Red Alert
The Red Alert




Record Review by Michael Byrne


Ciautistico! is a ridiculous harvest of golden musical wheat: a mowed strip through a sound field so extensive that we can't see it's edges.  Which matters not at all.  The grain reaped in 11 days in the Summer of 2005 will feed our ears until the scattered seeds of Xiu-Xiu-Larsen have long since sprouted again.


We can't see the edges of Ciautistico! because perhaps they aren't there.  Put crudely, these songs seem like bits of an endless composition.  Layered guitars, colliding melodies, anonymous sounds, all suggesting more (and, in the process, proving that post/math rock still has meaning and potential beyond the fizzle of Godspeed You Black Emperor! and the monotony of so many of their followers).  For Larsen, this is ground already tread.  Their first major release, Rever, was, in fact, a series of snapshots of a tremendous jam session taken by the Swans' Michael Gira.  For Xiu Xiu, this project is a departure.  Ciautistico! is denser, less personal, less political, and less fitful.  Xiu Xiu reveal in their songs a tumultuous well of emotion: the buried pain of being a person in a world of cruel people.  XXL reveal a tumultuous well of sound, that, before the fact, doesn't always involve people.  Save for the three songs with lyrics, Ciautistico! calls little attention to the fact that there are humans behind the screen.  For Xiu Xiu, it must have been a relief.  Or, a pair of handcuffs.  I suspect both.

Larsen's Rever seemed like bits of a bigger piece because, well, they were: the production was as much a part of the album as the songwriting.  Ciautistico! seems like part of a bigger piece because it is, and will be: the bigger piece has no definition.  The word ciautistico is an absurdist combination of ciao and autistic.  It means nothing.  It's a sound, an empty signifier, a suggestion of possibility.  And, despite it's singular beauty, the album is also the suggestion of possibility: a reassurance that music can still grow.



Xiu Xiu - Interview


More by this writer:

The Stares - Spine to Sea

Animal Collective - Feels

Tiger Saw - Sing!