This Invitation - "The Skin Of Light"
(Helio/Form Records 2004, helio-01)
From Aural Innovations #29 (October 2004)
The recent wave of New York minimalist rock bands has reached staggering heights in the past few years. Considering that New York City has always been the primary target audience for almost anything that claims to be avant-garde, one can see why. Minimalist rockers have several acquired traits that seemingly bind them together: 1) an art school education; 2) an almost fanatical worship of the Velvet Underground; 3) obligatory alliances with filmmakers, choreographers, sculptors, ideologues and other purveyors of the demi-monde; and 4) a tendency to talk a lot of nonsense about the psychoacoustic dimensions of sound and its relationship to the aural experience of tonal structure. Glenn Branca has indeed left us a legacy of artistic pretension that rivals the snobbery of the most vainglorious classical composer to ever set foot in Carnegie Hall. Perhaps it’s considerations as these that make me suspicious of artists who claim ancestral kinship with the New York minimalist school of rock ‘n’ drone.
This Invitation’s The Skin of Light certainly makes no pretense to being anything other than a descendant of New York City’s very deep rock underground. Each composition on The Skin of Light has the same vaguely pleasant, vaguely annoying lethargy, with each piece blurring into the next like autumn rain on a window sill. In fact, the individual songs are so transparent in structure that it’s often difficult to tell whether you’re listening to the first track or whether you’ve inexplicably moved on to the fourth track. Now this isn’t to say that The Skin of Light is somehow lacking in élan vital, only that this particular method of generating it is necessarily restrained and sometimes tedious. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about This Invitation is that they undoubtedly have achieved their purpose on The Skin of Light — they’ve scored the perfect soundtrack for watching the languid nocturnal ballet of snails on moonlit summer grass. There can be no higher, nor more sincere, praise for an artist who aspires to monotony as an aesthetic principle.
For more information you can email This Invitation at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact via snail mail c/o Helio/Form Records; 1083 Broadway; 2nd Floor; NYC, NY 11221.
Reviewed by Charles Van de Kree