Gavel's Third Try
6.5/10 - :: Thinkstandard:: is the solo project of the exceedingly prolific Steve Molter (also to be found treading the planks with Beware Of Safety, Sleep Uniform, Le Sigh, and The Black Hand), and could be fairly descriptively summed up as: one man, one Telecaster Thinline, one Ebow, twenty effects pedals, and a definite penchant for field recordings and vocal samples. So far, so ambient, and indeed The Gavel's Third Try certainly does not fail to live up to such expectations. Great swathes of sound roll through the speakers with the occasional glimpse of melody provided by keyboards atop the rest of the reverb-laden mix. Yet it would be unwise to be lulled into the lazy suspecting of predictability from this record. All of the track names are two letters long, but I am unsure exactly what to make of this. If put together, they spell "IDGLRERA VYSTTH," which could be a profound and insightful comment on the human condition, but is unfortunately lost on me if that is the case. "ID" and "RE" are the only ones you could get away with in a game of Scrabble, so I'm not sure I may glean any information from them as far as regards Molter's preferred past-time, either. They are, however, an anagram of "hard gristly vet" and perhaps more interestingly also of "gavel's third try." This would seem too neat to be a spooky coincidence, but I can't work out quite why Molter would have ordered them in such a manner. At any rate, this slight quirk very nicely serves my purpose of illustrating :: Thinkstandard::'s tendency to distance himself ever-so-slightly from the rest of the pack. The first track, "ID," is comprised of a constantly repeating four-note melody atop a recording of what sounds to be a busy waiting room or similar, with intermittent washes of lush, effected guitar, and on the whole is a very enjoyable listen, if not exactly a groundbreaking one, particularly when the counterpoint to the four-note melody enters. The next two tracks continue in a similarly unobtrusive yet agreeable vein, with nothing particularly attention-grabbing other than the especially satisfying way in which the piano enters just as the clip of a newsreader's voice comes to an end in "GL." The first shake-up comes in the fourth track, "RA," where jarring piano stabs ensure that the listener is prevented from using this album to go to sleep to, and the second in the haunting strings which make an appearance in "ST." The latter is the closest thing I would consider to a stand-out track, and has a wonderfully woeful and melancholic feel which offsets the samples of a woman saying the Hail Mary in an acutely satisfying manner. Both tracks, however, remove us somewhat from the comfort zone of what could otherwise have been an unspectacular ambient record, and instead turn it into a wholly engaging listen, albeit not one I would recommend hitting the hay to. - Fred Bevan, The Silent Ballet.