Album review: The Black String Theory – Remission

April 6, 2012

The Black String Theory - RemissionTitle: Remission
Artist: The Black String Theory
Label: Self-Released
Released: 16 April 2012
In One Word: Derivative

I’m very new to the music journalism game. I’ve only been writing for Music Vice for about two weeks now, and I’ve enjoyed it immensely so far. But in the back of my mind, I knew a day like today would come, and I have been dreading it. Because today is the day that I have to write a review for an album that I honestly have no interest in thinking about whatsoever, no matter how hard I try. That album is Remission by The Black String Theory.

I have to admit that this is, unfortunately, exactly as difficult as I thought it would be.

Okay. Well, I’m going to attempt to complete this assignment as best as I can, but I feel I should warn you that the seeming smug dismissiveness that is to follow is not intended to be taken as such; it’s simply all I feel that I can write honestly:

Los Angeles, California based band The Black String Theory sound like Radiohead, but with all of the interesting bits taken out, which basically means that half the time they sound like Keane and the other half they sound like Muse. They also sound like they’re trying, very hard, to sound like Radiohead on purpose, which is even more unfortunate (the occasional minor-key “eerie” synth pulse does not a pioneering band of forward-thinking mass-culture crafters make). For the vast majority of Remission, vocalist Scott Van Dort adopts an unmistakably Yorke-ian whine, but all that really ends up proving is that Thom Yorke is really easy to superficially imitate. Thom Yorke impersonations are always irritating for precisely this reason; yes, it’s possible to sound like him, but I can’t imagine why you’d want to try. No matter how well someone thinks they’ve nailed it, they will never communicate whatever it is that they are trying to express with the same ethereal knowingness that Yorke himself can’t help but emanate. I’ll put it this way: Thom Yorke is to Mr. Van Dort what I’m sure Eddie Vedder is to Chad Kroeger and that guy who sings for Theory of a Deadman.

What I’m saying is, The Black String Theory are boring. It’s not music that can discussed in any kind of in-depth, intellectually stimulating way because they evidently are not out to challenge anyone. It’s not music that can stand on its own merits, because it is impossible to hear it as anything but a cheap, neutered facsimile of source material that so many of us are familiar with (i.e. one of the biggest bands in the world). I don’t hate The Black String Theory; that would be silly. Hate is a very strong word, and in discussions of art it is to be reserved exclusively for that which represents something cancerously stupid or evil. This band is neither of those things. The Black String Theory just wants to sound like a bunch of their favourite bands, and nothing else; that’s cool, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be in a band that sounded exactly like the Stones circa Sticky Fingers, or Pavement pre-Brighten The Corners. But the point is that there’s no point in that.

© Justin Santelli, Music Vice

Internet links:
The Black String Theory

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J. Francis

J. Francis is a freelance music critic that sprouted like an unsightly growth from the suburbs of the Greater Toronto Area and eventually ended up in Kingston, Ontario. He is a man of deliriously firm, contradictory convictions, with a life-long dream of dismantling high-art/low-art hierarchies. He loves pop music with a passion that many find unsettling and is often mistaken as being somehow ironic or insincere (nothing could be further from the truth). His favourite album is Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell. He knows that you think that's ridiculous. Regardless, he hopes you have a good day.

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One Response to Album review: The Black String Theory – Remission

  1. Brian Banks on April 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    The toughest task for a music writer is to attempt to write about a band who aren’t worth talking about. You just passed that test, Justin.

    It is much more enjoyable to tell the world about an exciting new band and why our dear Music Vice readers MUST hear their music immediately, but the reality is that not every band is essential. Some are not even worth writing about. However, it’s important to sometimes write about bands who are average or worse, because this is a true reflection of the over-saturation of music. There are more artists than ever but a lot of them are just not good enough.

    Many bands are uninteresting; or imitations of the real thing. Faking it won’t get you far, you’re only fooling yourself. This is where a music journalist must be true, and as blunt and honest as needed to get the point across about why they feel the band are not up to scratch. That is the duality of a music journalist as both a music addict and an impartial critic.

    Wax on, wax off, wax on, wax off…

    Brian – Editor, Music Vice

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