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About Quiet Countries: Leb Borgerson: sole horseman of the band apocalypse?
[LIVE RECORDING] Bands are out. Or going out. Songwriters are ditching bandmates and cutting down to the electro skeleton crew. Guests are fine and collaborators are unavoidable...but whole bands? Dinosaurs.
And what if that were really the case, a mass death of communal music? With Leb Borgerson—a band survivor—on the side of the solo, it would be a bit harder to mourn the loss. The 27-year-old has spent much of his music-making time playing with bands like Laserhawk, Dykeritz and, currently, Alan Singley's Pants Machine. In those bands he has proved himself an able musician, but with his current project, Quiet Countries, Borgerson is something more. He is composer, player and, in a sense, band.
On his first full-length, No One Makes a Sound, Borgerson doesn't absolutely maintain his isolation (Kevin O'Connor and Lisa Molinaro of Lucky Madison label mates Talkdemonic are featured on "A Wicked Word"). But otherwise Quiet Countries is liberated from band drama and creative conflict. "This is the first time I've just been able to do the music I was thinking of," Borgerson says, "and I really like that."
The first step in replacing the band is re-engineering its best asset: memory. Borgerson does this through the use of recall devices—delays, looping rigs, a repeater, a sampler and a drum machine—that are all linked together in a grand tangle of thick black cables, blinking boxes and knobbed pedals. It's a frightful mess, but it makes possible the one-man choir and baritone guitar orchestra that appear so often on No One Makes a Sound and in Borgerson's performances.
A Quiet Countries show, according to Borgerson, is a "live recording." That is, the instrumentation and arrangement occur almost entirely on stage. The music—the final product—is a mix of jagged deep beats, soft gloomy melodies and vocals that are an odd mix of plaintiveness, bite and hope. Save for the wisely restrained use of samples, most everything coursing through the on stage Quiet Countries tangle is off a live input, whether it be keys, a microphone or guitar. Trapped in their little boxes, the sounds that Borgerson creates are chopped, looped and remixed, resulting in an aural hall of mirrors, with Borgerson singing and playing live guitar against a backdrop of sound recorded minutes before. The vocals are pained, the instrumentation is shadowy, and by the time Borgerson has layered vocal track upon vocal track to create a choir of self-harmonization, the listener is defenseless. I'm terrified to think that I'm wrong, and bands aren't going out, just evolving into four-person versions of Quiet Countries, an exponential symphony limited only by the circuit breakers in the basement. MICHAEL BYRNE.

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