Ursa Minor

Silent Moving Picture

/smells like; 2003/




more info:

Ext. Night. SEB WOOd wanders alone in the street, guided by street shadows. He just passes by, chasing away another insomnia. As he walks looking at his feet, a door opens and a couple of delicate piano notes break out. A middle-aged woman comes out and wantonly insults a ghost which supposedly stands in front of her. The door opens again and throws away a few more piano notes accompanied by what seems to be a touching female voice. A man noisily comes out of the piano bar, throwing a brown fur to the woman who is still arguing with the ghost. The man is drunk, stumbles, tries hard to cling to the woman’s hips but pitifully lands on the pavement next to dog shit.

SEB WOOd ignores him and heads towards the entrance. The bouncer derogatorily looks at his slacker sneakers, wonders if he’s letting him go inside or not, throws a glance inside and lets him in.

Int. Dark Piano Bar.

The atmosphere is smoky. There are more people than the bouncer’s attitude made him guess. Everyone is quiet and peacefully looking at the band who settles comfortably. SEB WOOd sits at the bar, orders a white Russian and nonchalantly leans upon the bar. A woman who looks younger than she should comes around and builds a charming smile on her non-made up lips and talks to him with what seems to be at first sight her regular voice:

Woman: ‘Excuse-me do you have a match please ?’

SWd: ‘Sorry, I don’t smoke’.

Woman (surprised): ‘What ? Are you kidding me ? Have you seen your face ? And you dare say you don’t smoke!’

SWd: ‘That’s the truth.’

The woman leaves with a sarcastic grin. SWd would have liked to shout her that he doesn’t need to smoke to look cool. But he doesn’t, he just watches her go, kissing his scorn to calm down. Then, the music starts.

The first song doesn’t last a full minute. ‘It works like a charm…’ sings the girl accompanying herself with sparse piano notes. It’s called an introduction thinks SEB, swallowing his third white Russian. There’s a shift to Fender Rhodes. ‘Misery Loves Company’ now utters the girl while SWd opens an eye and sees nothing but a blur of dismal forms. The poster says ‘slow moving picture’ while the music is slow-moving, making the girl velvet voice come to the fore. The singer is dark-haired, which seems normal in a smoky piano bar. Her voice is somehow softly raspy and reminds him of Kristin Hersch from time to time but it truly reaches an eerie dimension when it shifts from doleful quietness to tense delivery, and back again. A 60’s distorted guitar appears in a Velvet Underground kind of way in an amazing Jane’s Addiction cover (‘Summertime Rolls’). The rhythmic section is really tied together, be it in ethereal slow-moving songs (‘silent moving picture’) in-between waters songs alternating sparse moments with tense ones à la Suzanne Vega way (‘Down like that again’ and ‘Already Gone’ whose ending is almost catchy) or in mid-tempo sort of 60’s ‘rhythm’n’bluesy’ organic songs in which the singer’s varied diction conveys enraptured mood swings (the wonderful ‘steady’). Near the end, the piano comes again to underline a delicate song called ‘Crossing Lines’. The album ends on ‘Mississipiland’, a quiet track in-between Suzanne Vega and traditional American blues songs.

SEB WOOd is in a daze now. When he came back to his apartment, he surely was drunk but in an automatic kind of way he programmed his cd-player to wake him up early. He forgot which cd was in. It was Ursa Minor’s debut release and I guess it perfectly fit in his mess point mood…

-Blacklisted Igor

/may 1st 2003/