THE REMINDING IDEAS – The House Of Weather

The Reminding Ideas are not interested in pleasing others with their music. The pairing of vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Michael Magnum and multi-instrumentalist Matt Soule claim not to care for any musical boundaries.  Without those boundaries many often follow, the possibilities should be wide-open.  Realising this, The Reminding Ideas have strived to create a distinctive sound; one they could call their own.  At least fifty percent of the time, they’ve not even managed that, since huge chunks of ‘House of Weather’ resembles some of Radiohead’s post ‘OK Computer’ output – only badly arranged and played by amateurs.

‘Vegetables’ is a number with a sound that’s very characteristic of most of The Reminding Ideas’ works.  It begins with a lone voice, before a programmed loop chimes in.  The first thing you’ll notice about said loop is that it comes loaded with a jarring offbeat…although that’s not as jarring as the clumsy splicing at its end.  We have to assume The Reminding Ideas have chosen to present the programmed element this way on purpose – and if so, it certainly pricks up the listeners ears (at least, the first time it’s heard).  However, whether this is a good or bad thing will solely be decided by the individual.  By the time the alternative rock fuelled guitars kick in, it all starts to take form.  The music has a presence and Magnum’s lead vocal sounds more settled, but soon it becomes evident this is all style and no substance.  ‘August’ begins with a cold electronic basis, over which Magnum adds a slightly haunting melody.  On first listen, you’d hope for it breaking into something crashy.  No such luck, though… Instead the tune ambles along, punctuated by a repeated piano chord, over which Magnum offers more long vocal notes.  Magnum and Soule then wander along for about four more minutes in search of an actual tune, teasing the listener; occasionally they threaten to do something interesting…yet never quite manage it.

‘The Remaining Idea’ has an extended instrumental intro, with a well placed piano motif.  The piano chords are played against a really leading bassline.  It’s one of The Reamining Ideas’ better musical ideas, but it’s still made a little unnerving by an off kilter rhythm track.  The lead vocals are almost there as an extra piece of instrumentation, but don’t add much to the overall piece; while the backwards loops and guitar feedback at the end sounds like an afterthought.  It’s almost as if Magnum and Soule had no idea how to bring this particular piece to a close.  By the time ‘This Is Where We Breathe’ appears with haunting vocal passages (subject to huge amounts of post-production), stabbed piano and a drum loop – things are sounding rather familiar.  You’ve already heard The Reminding Ideas have a good stab at this previously.  Seemingly, having no boundaries brings its own boundaries.

‘Swarm of Bees’ is the only track worth spending any real time with.  The electronic loops have a reasonable bottom end, while Magnum’s lead vocal sounds more natural.  The real drums have a solid live sound and the guitars bring a great crashy indie-rock sensibility when they’re present.  The second half of the track features extensive use of looped vocals in places and generally, it’s still not too bad.  Having said that, this is the kind of thing you will have heard on any post-millennium Radiohead record, so…uh, it’s not really worth getting excited about.

A couple of The Reminding Ideas’ musical structures just about work – in a fashion – but most miss the mark completely.  None of songs have instant choruses (or in most cases any hooks at all), but unfortunately, none of the tunes will stick in your head either.  ‘House of Weather’ is an avant-garde record for those not adventurous enough to listen to anything truly avant-garde.  This is avant-light – the kind of music created for those who think Radiohead and The Flaming Lips are somehow groundbreaking. You may find a flicker of an interesting idea here on occasion, but with so much genuinely great music out there waiting to be discovered (be it commercial and hook filled, properly avant-garde or whatever), life’s just too short for The Reminding Ideas and their wanton self-indulgence.

September 2011