Just So You Know…
As usual, Steed’s sense of humor shines through on Music For Bus Stations The album title and cover art is clearly a comedic homage to Brian Eno ’s Music For Airports . Interestingly, while Todd and John apparently weren’t content to serve up a no fun and solemn approach, the album ends up coming across as quite a serious and worthwhile outing.
Musically, Bus Stations fits in quite comfortably alongside the dreamy, repetitive mantras of Arvo Part , Boards of Canada, Erik Satie and, of course, the aforementioned Eno. The album’s four longwinded tracks feature loops of conversational snippets recorded surreptitiously at, you guessed it, bus stations around Knoxville. Beguiling and vexing enough on their own, the found sounds take on a surreal quality when given the loop treatment. The result draws comparison to minimalist composer Steve Reich ’s Different Trains , a piece that also utilizes looping repetition of spoken snippets and follows a similar transportation depot theme.
A subtle and nuanced album, Bus Stations is much more than a musical soporific. While the recording is certainly “pretty” enough, there’s a quietly eerie quality to the whole affair that reveals itself most fully with repeated listening. I daresay that Baker and Steed were both surprised by the complex beauty that resulted from this musical experiment. I’ll be referring to this one for quite some time.
The band proceeded to play its usual unpredictable set, with Pollard at the mic spewing an amalgamation of political aspersions, lurid incantations, and metaphysical quandaries. In one memorable song, he spouted, “I ain’t no Sylvia Plath . I ain’t never gonna die.” Morelock pounded the tympanis in primal desperation as the rest of the band spiraled into a stunning frenzy. You never know what kind of show the Humans will play, but you can always bet it’ll be refreshingly weird.
Just So You Know…
— John Sewell, Molly Kincaid