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The Pilot Ships | The Limits Of Painting And Poetry (Blue Sanct)
Bloomington, Indiana would be the new scene for press to exploit if more than a handful of people in the U.S. paid any attention to good music. Oh, what a horribly pessimistic opening line. I'm sorry, it's just that, what with Secretly Canadian and Jagjaguar leading the pack, Bloomington seems a virtual factory town of visionary labels promoting auteur-like talents, most of which hardly register a blip on the screen of your average rockscribe. There's some crazy shit coming out of these labels, but the general tone is a mellow one, a category I'd most definitely place The Pilot Ships within. It's interesting to note the involvement of Stars Of The Lid alumnus Brian McBride in The Ships' line-up, for his presence allows insight as to why this band's strengths seemingly engender its weaknesses. Thinking back on the record, I find it hard to lock onto any singular melody or motif. The music exists in a semi-permanent transience; it follows a melodic course, but never fully commits to its own sonic vision. Therefore, as a wash it works only so well, for there is enough 'structured' material through-out to pull the listener from total engagement on an abstract level, yet as a collection of songs, it fails to commit to any requisite form, drifting instead into the semi-abstractions it similarly favors. One senses that McBride's emphasis on the former technique is at odds with the band's (and perhaps his own) song-oriented desires. His isolationist flavorings (keenly perfected throughout the ambient guitar formations which mark the Stars' discography) are palpable throughout the record's nine cuts, but neither his additions, nor those of the other members manage to strike a satisfactory cohesion. More precious than beautiful, The Pilot Ships are moving toward something grand, - whether they'll reach that state remains to be seen. (1703 North Maple St., Bloomington, IN 47404)

G.C. Weeks
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001