The laptop has become an instrument in its own right. It’s not enough to have a guitar and the desire to clamber on stage any more – every other band now has a member standing stock still in the shadows at the back, pressing buttons on a laptop, like one half of a Pet Shop Boys tribute act.
This is fine in principle: computerised sounds are more than welcome when a band is enriched in a way unachievable with mere instruments. You’d think that a computer’s endless capacity for minutiae would mean that all bands would now sound massively different to one another; yet the majority of computerised sounds used by bands are still of the tagged-on glitchy sound-effect variety, betraying the ‘techy-mate-of-the-band’ roots of its involvement. Human error, not computer error.
I imagine Today’s New Band use a laptop or two, but Balún‘s seductively foggy sound suggests that they have got the balance right. Balún have realised that technology is only useful if the intent behind that use is carefully measured, and in songs like Minumina have produced small bubbles of quivering delicacy; bubbles ready to burst under the weight of their frivolity.
Minumina is the work of a band that is in control, and yet ready to allow the organic, and strictly un-computerised, element of the accidental evolve their music. This song is like one long, dreamy gasp of satisfaction, and A Surprise is a similarly spontaneous, elated rush of blood.
Balún are tentatively tiptoeing the paper-thin line of balance between creating sounds with the hands via traditional instruments and creating sounds with the mind via the infinite possibilities of the computer. It’s a tough task, but one they’re equal to. Slight delirium awaits. Listen here!
Photo by Jacob Hand (www.jacobhand.com)