La Dispute are an odd band, who frankly I haven’t been that interested in since 2008’s heartbroken (deep breath) Somewhere At The Bottom Of The River Between Vega And Altair. Occasionally grating but always passionate, it stays on the Sad Mike playlist alongside the likes of Frightened Rabbit. It’s a solo time sort of album, the lyrics varying between metered rhyme and straight spoken word storytelling, without many choruses, generally hardcore fashioned music beneath yelled vocals. It can be difficult for casual listening, but the story told within was more than worth any discomfort at the musical stylings.
When I spotted Tiny Dots on Spotify, released just a few days ago, I took a listen so I could let a friend know whether it was any good. He’d recommended their second album, Wildlife, but I’d found it less cohesive and compelling than Vega. I’m not sure we ever spoke on their next, Rooms Of The House. They also have a series of three experimental Here, Hear albums.
I’m glad I checked this one out, though, as I learned that this is the soundtrack to a documentary film they made last September. I’m struggling to learn anything about the film, other than the fact that it is available on DVD from the band’s website, but either way, the album is fantastic. Six studio tracks that remind me more of Godspeed You! Black Emperor than anything else. Track two is reminiscent of an acoustic Aphex Twin song. Only two tracks of the first half of the album (tracks lettered A through G but skipping F) feature any sort of vocals, and even those manage to keep up that Godspeed vibe.
The second half is six tracks recorded live in Kingston, UK, all songs from their last two albums. It’s much much more indicative of their usual output, but better than I remember those albums being. The first half of A Broken Jar is rather grating, and really displays them at their worst, at least when taken out of context; it purposefully degenerates into escalating ramblings of an angsty guy over music that doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with the vocals. Woman (In Mirror) and St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Blues, conversely, show their ability to be moody, synchronized, sensual, and intriguing, with elements of brutally personal honesty, the hints of truth in the storytelling giving the whole thing depth.
La Dispute is certainly not for everyone, but in the right ears, at the right moment, in the right moment, they manage to find a perfect niche. Tiny Dots proves to be a good introduction to their music; if you enjoy the first half more, explore the Here, Hear series. If the live tracks float your boat, find your way to Vega and sit back with it like a book.
Find all things La Dispute at ladisputemusic.com.
It’s a solo time sort of album, the lyrics varying between metered rhyme and straight spoken word storytelling. It can be difficult for casual listening, but the story told within is worth forgiving its odd presentation. La Dispute is certainly not for everyone, but in the right ears, at the right moment, in the right moment, they manage to find a perfect niche.