Dntel – “Human Voice”
12″ Vinyl LP BUNDLE w/ltd. Outtakes Cassette
Art direction: Jesse Moretti

total runtime Album LP: 36min
total runtime Outtakes CS: 40min
*HV Outtakes Cassette only w/Vinyl purchase from Stones Throw.
*Cassette-only B.Side: live performance on Leaving Records Boiler Room feat. Mitchell Brown
*Immediate digital download of Album LP when copped

Some rather memorable moments in the catalog of Jimmy Tamborello, aka Dntel, feature collaborations with neatly paired guest vocalists (Ben Gibbard, Jenny Lewis, Baths, Mia Doi Todd to name a few.) Much attention has been paid to these carefully picked singers, with Tamborello’s backing a perfect complement— the producer is always humbly stepping out of the spotlight, allowing the guest to shine.

Ironically, Human Voice, is atypically bereft of any featured guests. Tracks are instead festooned with largely computerized and disembodied voices, lost somewhere in an ether of circuitry and possessing that plaintive emotion which sounds unmistakably like Dntel. An interesting thing happens— even without lyrics and the radiant personality of a guest vocalist attached to them, the 8 tracks here still manage to convey the same depths of emotion, despair, longing, hope, and optimism that have touched the lives of so many listeners. It is telling that the album’s title comes from a preset sound of the same name on the Casio SK-1 (a classic sampling keyboard.) Human Voice demonstrates that the real complexity and driving emotion has always been emanating straight out of the machines, effectively communicating as competently as human language. Music is a language all its own, able to convey emotional complexity with the same deftness as words— and without the immense frustration of language barriers.

The tacit concept of communication runs throughout Human Voice like a current. The opening title track and closing duet of “Bay Loop” and “Ashby” are anchored by a soft 4/4 thud highly reminiscent of a human heartbeat. Comforting and familiar, this naturalistic rhythm creates a base for the freewheeling, explorative melodies and curiously emotive electronic voices that rise up like vapor. On “Fringes of Focus,” an atmosphere of movement and high adventure is cultivated with the addition of carefully plucked guitars and a rollicking, clap-heavy groove. “Foraya” takes its time building gradually from a dramatically slowed voice and culminating in another joyous, exuberant symphony of comforting melodies (cut dramatically short, as it were.) “Bike Path” and “Connections” thrive on the nostalgic, sun-faded, and vividly conjured memories that helped The Postal Service smash platinum sales. Tamborello steps furthest outside of his wheelhouse with the hectic, neck-breaking beatwork of “If I Stay a Minute,” on which a reversed vocal sample takes the track to a dizzying, palpitating climax.

September 23rd, 2014