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Joan of Arc | How Can Anything So Little Be Any More? (Jade Tree)
After four full length records, Joan of Arc have decided to call it a day. Originating from the ashes of Chicago band Cap'n Jazz, Joan of Arc have pummelled a brief yet influential career out of the art of heady free-form deconstruction - kind of like an emo Gastr del Sol. On this, their posthumous swansong, head arc Tim Kinsellas manages to bring together all of the previously disparate elements for what is so far one of the year's most beguiling and interesting releases. Sounding at times like three bands playing entirely different songs (with the TV on in the background), HCASLBAM? is for the most part a delicate acoustic affair. Despite the wilfully obtuse song structures, there are still plenty of memorable melodies at work here. Lyrically, however the words seem to scuttle by, with only the odd line sticking out; the "fucking strangers..." line in the standout track Ne Mosquitoes Pass, or the opening line on What if we are... ?? "Jesus was just so God, damn pretentious." (and Kinsellas would know ?? Ed) The songs are linked by samples of kids singing and the sound of distorted radio noise, book-ending the moments of calm nicely. The album ends with a sample of two kids talking, one asking the other how it feels to be a winner, to which the other responds, "it feels fine." When the question is reversed the kid answers "it doesn't feel to good to be a loser." Perhaps this is Kinsellas' way of finalising the band on a non-committal note. This record though is a winner - an ultimately warm, satisfying record and a fitting epitaph for one of the more unique bands to have come out of America in the 90's.

James Hindle
CWAS #8 - Summer 2001