Boomkat Product Review:
Finally reissued, 2004's "The Dead Texan" is a weightless audiovisual collaboration between Stars of the Lid's Adam Wiltzie and Christina Vantzou. Soft-focus, melancholy guitar drones have rarely sounded so entrancing >> literally the roots of Celer, Eluvium, Benoît Pioulard et al.
Back in the early '00s, Adam Wiltzie - then based in Belgium - connected with Christina Vantzou to devise a record that was a few paces from Stars of the Lid's blurry, dreamworld minimalism. A selection of 11 of his smeared, widescreen pieces (lovingly drawn using piano, guitar and electronics) were paired with 11 short visual pieces from Vantzou, and the resulting album pre-empted both the contemporary trend for audio/visual releases and the obsession with nostalgic, beatless music. At the time, Wiltzie revealed that he thought the music was too aggressive for Stars of the Lid, but don't get it twisted - this isn't grumbly power ambient. Wiltzie's perceived aggression has to be seen against Stars of the Lid's "The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid", a career-high double album that's as delicate as a whisper wrapped in silk and packed down with cotton wool.
Comparatively, "The Dead Texan" puts its cards on the table: piano motifs anchor many of the tracks, accompanied by swelling orchestral guitar drones and evocative, rumbling bass. Rather than attempt to reference the ambivalent surrealism of David Lynch's cinematic world as he did with Stars of the Lid, Wiltzie leans into the spiritual levity of Terrence Malick. It's music that makes sense when you consider his background. Every time you think it might go over the top, Wiltzie pulls it back, teasing his own limits.
Listening two decades later, the album still sounds relevant. And while there are a litany of artists who have attempted to mine this same musical seam, few have reached the high water mark set by "The Dead Texan". Romantic, effusive and desperately mired in a sense of frustrated longing that's only more palpable in a time of global chaos.