Time & Space
At its best a cover song is an overflowing testament of love. On the Time & Space digital release, seven diverse acts take on the back catalog of Asthmatic Kitty artist Liz Janes and the result is nothing short of a testimonial. Both wildly experimental and heavily grounded in a classic American Songbook tradition, Janes’ work runs the gamut from clattering, dark-toned avant-blues to high plains gospel to (as seen on her latest full-length, Say Goodbye) a new kind of mantric space opera. Here Janes’ discography is busted wide open—no rules, all sights set on reinvention, grand exposition, and new horizons. It is, in essence, a glowing tribute to one well-deserving lady.
The EP begins with Son Lux taking on an early track, “Desert,” showing the experimental fervor Janes’ work inspires, with a slow-building loop-trip through wind chime heaven leading up to a gorgeously affected vocal rising up like the sun, shining in radiance, then disappearing back around the world. My Brightest Diamond’s cover of “Bitty Thing” is next with Shara’s voice showcased gloriously over a back layer of multi-tracked a capella voices and instrumentation that becomes—quickly—a glitchy orchestral epic. Helado Negro’s Roberto Carlos Lange follows that up with Say Goodbye’s “Tristeza,” remade as a patient, looping Spanish-sung electro track (with definite shades of his upcoming Asthmatic Kitty full-length, Canta Lechuza.)
In the middle of the record we have San Diego’s Black Heart Procession in fine form turning “Martyr’s Grind Up” from Done Gone Fire into a spooky, spectral piano/musical saw ballad with a drifting undercurrent of distant tape samples touching on self-harm and great geographic catastrophe. Fol Chen brings the party in the sixth track, “Streetlight,” deconstructing the Poison & Snakes recording as an elaborate, sinewy piece of laptopic prog rock. Up next Danielson turns “Wonderkiller” into the best Pixies song never written. (At just 2:40 minutes it’s a vibrant, ecstatic pop song that should be on the radio 24/7. Write your congressman and local DJ.) Ending this compilation is Arrington de Dionyso revamping the title track of Poison & Snakes into a noise-damaged sermon from a desert-rat preacher, all pitching feedback and peaked-out levels and elastic a capella hollers stomping us into avant-gospel heatstroke.
And so goes the 23 minutes of Time & Space. If a cover song is the sincerest form of peer-on-peer flattery, Liz Janes has got to be feeling pretty satisfied about things right now.
- Desert – Son Lux – 3:08
- Bitty Thing – My Brightest Diamond – 3:57
- Tristeza – Helado Negro – 2:35
- Martyr’s Grind Up – Black Heart Procession – 3:33
- Streetlight – Fol Chen – 3:51
- Wonderkiller – Danielson – 2:40
- Poison & Snakes – Arrington de Dionyso – 3:34