Artist: Miniature Airlines
Album: And Everything Collapsed
Label: Pleasure Boat Records
Released: February 8, 2013
Creating compelling art within relatively narrow parameters is in a way even more impressive than boundless, free-form stretches of creativity. Ideas have to be more refined, and brilliant enough to avoid being lumped in with the rest of the class. And Everything Collapsed, the new full-length (after a string of several free EPs) by Seattle bedroom producer Miniature Airlines is a laptop-constructed, lightly chiptune-influenced masterpiece on which MiniAir (Dylan Abbott) takes a familiar bank of electronic sounds, and pins its science-kit of contents to a sharp set of melodies that he could cash in for a quick buck up front, but chooses to let their prettiness reach the listener only when he's ready for the full reveal. Every sound has context in this world, and every conclusion is reached logically. There are complex - if not experimental - elements in the album's make-up (mainly the rich recording, and perfectly balanced mixing) but the simple joy of accessibility is never lost.
A close album conceptually to AEC might be Budo's melodically accomplished One Bird on a Wire, an album that squeezed more inventive songwriting from a few simple instruments (trumpet, electric keys, auto-tuned vocals) than one would have ever expected. And Everything Collapsed is every bit as emotive as Budo's lone solo effort as well, leaving a deep blue filter over our bright winter daylight hours, and painting hope and doubt in the same stroke. Where many other mainly instrumental (there are layered vocals on the album's last track, "Never Better") can drag along at an obliviously slow, self-involved pace, AEC moves like a conversation with an abundance of interesting talking points. Not fast, or repetitive enough to be easily slotted as "dance", but engulfing enough to occasionally move you physically as well as emotionally.
The lack of a radio-dumb club drums, or even vocals (people often need someone to tell them what's happening in their favorite song) may slow the spread of the individual songs included on And Everything Collapsed, but the collection of songs is absolutely as enjoyable piece-by-piece as it is as a flowing long form - a testament to Abbott's command of progression, and ability to produce complete thoughts within the confines of his cleverly defined comfort zone.