I have to admit that when I received the latest batch of CDs for review I was less than impressed with the look of the two CDs from Inimitable Records. They sent CD-Rs, usually the mark of the amateur in my book. But when I realized their prime distribution outlet is iTunes and there is no physical product, I understood completely. In this age of digital distribution, it makes a lot of sense. Inimitable is a small label and they only have three releases- this one (Building Seven), Delenio, and Ryan J-W Smith who happens to be one half of Building Seven (along with Michael Schofield, aka Micro).. Building Seven also has a MySpace sight, and their own website, which may still be under construction.
Maybe it was because I didn’t have to unwrap anything that I decided to give Building Seven a listen first. On first impression, if I had to categorize the music, I’d call it softside-downtempo with touches of the eclectic. It’s electronically based as you might expect with an occasional atmospheric guitar groove. First track, "Pangea" (which used to be the band name) is a little dreampop gem that sounds like the ethereal side of The Church with the pop sensibility of Radiohead and the guitar noodling of Durutti Column. Frothy and spacey with a cool memorable chorus hook. A bit of female Middle Eastern ululating in the background. Nice touch guys. Definitely an opening track intriguing enough to prompt anticipation of the rest, and probably will end up being a favorite of college radio djs into dreampop. Also probably the best track on the CD.
Ryan has a pleasingly understated voice perfect for this type of material. Even if the next couple of tracks are a little blandish, his voice adds to the feeling of the music, becoming part of the ambience. Then again, I think Building Seven were striving for an overall dreamy atmosphere rather than producing commercial pop hits. Sometimes Building Seven get the groove right-on, such as on the 5th track, "Good Afternoon", a sort of nod to Boards of Canada, with some innocuous sampled dialogue set against a pleasant little melody. And sometimes not so right like of the preceding track, "Calliope", which has a bit of an awkward rhythm for a love song.
The mood breaks from the previously languorous drift on the track "Sentir", with a ponderous deep synth and string section opening, and a bit more of a driving Delerium-esque rhythm track. It crosses into that darker terrain mined by projects like Enigma, Deep Forest, Delerium, Conjure One, et al, primarily instrumental The rest of the tracks seem to be less "song oriented" with vocals sparse to non-existent ands melodies breaking through the haze every now and then, like rays of sunlight on a could-filled summer day. It effectively maintains the mood- kinda chilled, stirred but not shaken.
All in all, this is a nice debut for Building Seven. Too bad there are about five other bands with the same name. But when you name your project after a popular conspiracy theory, it’s bound to happen.