Mike Shannon – Possible Conclusions To Stories That Never End (~scape/Inertia)

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Given the obvious similarities, it’s tempting to draw parallels between Deadbeat (Scott Monteith) and Mike Shannon (founder of minimal techno labels Cynosure and Revolver): both are originally from Ontario, Canada, both deeply embrace electronic styles on their ~scape discs, and the vocal songs on their respective releases New World Observer and Possible Conclusions To Stories That Never End spotlight female singers (Athésia on Deadbeat’, Anaïs on Shannon’) to reasonably satisfying effect. (The title alludes to the project’s philosophical underpinning—the idea that each life’ unique narrative trajectory defies resolution and therefore accommodates contingent and merely tentative conclusions—but, don’ worry, enjoyment of the album is hardly dependent on familiarity with its theme.) The key difference is one of stylistic conception: Monteith’ panoramic digi-dub inhabits an entirely distinct universe from Shannon’ sophisticated “electronic-lounge’ style. Though he includes an occasional field interlude (the album begins with the sound of a typhoon hitting Tokyo streets), the album largely hews to that style, with guests adding welcome variety to Shannon’ material throughout.

The vocal tracks make the strongest impression. Anaïs’ breathy supplications deepen the seductive atmosphere of the languid tech-house opener “Come To You” while her silken tones deepen the dreamy ambiance of “Remembrance,” the natural quality of her voice nicely offsetting steely machine noises rumbling in the background; elsewhere, her sultry voice complements the jazzy trip-hop of “Sweet Lies” and “Taken Only Road.” Stoked by the loosely funky drumming of Tim Stokes-Rees, the album’ electronic jazz vibe moves to the forefront on “I’ll Pay My Rent On the Daytime Nocturnal” while Patrick Watson’ piano sprinkles and Stokes-Rees’ brushes turn “Fallen Tears Among Spirit Trees” into the album’ most overt lounge cut. With the Detroit-laced strutter “Sudden Moves” and “The Last One Terrified,” a buoyant hip-hop interlude boosted by Moral Undulation’ gravelly spoken word turn, Shannon pushes the album into other directions too. A shame to report, then, that some solidly executed but less eventful tracks (“Miyako Train,” “Bathing In Microwaves”) come across a bit too much like background music, ultimately leading one to regard Possible Conclusions To Stories That Never End as a good but far from spectacular addition to the ~scape catalogue.

Ron Schepper

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