Belvedere Jehosophat - Monday, 19 February 2007
From the outset The Destroyed Room sounds, more than anything else, like something that would be found on the SYR series. After all, of the eleven tracks, only three have vocals, and, even then, one of those, an outtake from Experimental Jet Set, Trash & No Star, lasts only a little over a minute. (To qualify, that particular track, "Razor Blade," is as sweet as the liner-notes suggest.)
The second track with vocals, "Blink," recorded in 1999 for inclusion in a French film, is also very sweet — albeit in a folkish/droning way — and interesting in that it sounds very much like a Yo La Tengo song. The final non-instrumental, and the reason I suspect quite a few people will have purchased this record is the almost 26-minute long version of "The Diamond Sea." I'm not sure if this particular version, the unedited take of what ended up on the Washing Machine album, has ever been released, whether as a b-side or for download, but it is quite spectacular, and certainly worth owning.
This leaves us with the eight instrumentals — which are made up of quite a broad spectrum of songs. The two-minute long "Campfire," created on a Groovebox synth/sampler sound machine for inclusion in the At Home with the Groovebox record sounds exactly what I presume a campfire would sound like if recorded on a "Groovebox synth/sampler sound machine." Contrast this with the first song, "Fire Engine Dream," a noisy jam, that, according to the band, acts as a litmus test of sorts for the rest of the record, and you start to get an idea about the breadth of sounds to be found on The Destroyed Room.
Of course, the songs on this record aren't as slight as I've suggested with "Razor Blade" and "Campfire" — "Kim's Chords" and, especially, "Beautiful Plateau," for example, both bonus tracks to the Japanese release of Sonic Nurse are really just great instrumentals.
The Destroyed Room, ultimately, is an outstanding record, with its release marking a striking departure from the excellent but straightforward pop of 2006's Rather Ripped. It, as an album, holds together well and sounds quite coherent — in short, as more than just a collection of disparate tracks. I would, however, feel more comfortable if I knew that The Destroyed Room, as good as it actually is, were in fact a stop-gap release and that a compilation of the SYR series was soon to follow, something that I'm not entirely sure is actually going to happen.