There was a time in the mid 90s to the early 00s when Chicago was an incredibly prolific and incestuous scene for independent music. Bands freely shared members and put out a lot of material, often as obscure solo or side projects. Even when you thought you had a handle on a relatively well known band like Tortoise, it would turn out that, say, Jeff Parker put out some solo album you've never heard of. Today, though, this kind of cross pollination and proflicacy belongs to the Canadians. It's easy to play "six degrees of separation" with many of the bands since most of them have members who do solo material or serve time in side projects, collaborations, and other bands. Perhaps none of these axes is more tangled and large than the one centered around the Spencer Krug: he is a full time member of Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, and Swan Lake and a sometime member of Frog Eyes...oh, damn, he also had that Fifths Of Seven band, too...
And now he has added Moonface to his deck of cards. Presumably a solo affair, this EP is possibly connected to an obscure 7" put out by Krug's Sunset Rubdown band titled "Introducing Moonface." As if to combat any complaints from fans of his other bands, he not only released this as Moonface but also with a completely honest, literal subtitle: the only instruments used on this 20 minute single track are marimbas and cheap sounding drums.
For fans (I'm tempted to say "scholars," considering how complicated Krug's discography is), the Dreamland EP will be little more than an interesting, inessential experiment. Often artists can produce amazing work within self-imposed limitations, and Krug has proven he is sometimes at his best with little to work with: 'Child-Heart Losers' from Sunset Rubdown's Random Spirit Lover is devastating in its simplicity. But while the long tracks on last year's superb Dragonslayer worked through several sections, focusing on different instruments or atmospheres, this EP is limited to the aforementioned two instruments and is double the length of even that album's longest song.
Unfortunately, Dreamland makes for a monotonous and trying listen for the Krug faithful and a baffling, pointless exercise for non-fans. There aresome good moments here or there during the track's 20 minutes, but there are also too many parts where the same marimba pattern cycles for the 20th time and you wonder if he's putting you on or not. Since this EP was initially a "pay what you want" download in the now standard Radiohead In Rainbows mold, it makes me wonder if this was something Krug dashed off as a personal challenge and thought it was worth releasing as a obscure curio for the hardcore. Even as much as I love Krug, though, I wish he had taken the ideas and sections and turned them into shorter, full fledged songs instead of a rambling, often-outright boring single EP-length track. To be honest, I'm not sure this EP is worth any amount of money. I am sure, however, that it's for the completionist fans only and even they will find little nutrition in it.
2 Poorly Drawn Stars Out Of 5