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Shmat's Reviews
For more reviews, please visit Palebear which is where all future Shmat reviews will appear (as of March 2006).

Andrew Shapiro
Invisible Days (CD EP)

Here at Shmat, we mostly review indie pop and rock, so when I first listened to this EP (Invisible Days) from Andrew Shapiro I had absolutely no idea what to write about it. This isn't straight pop by any stretch of the imagination, but neither does it fall into that nebulous bargain bin of new age (often pronounced "newage", as in rhyming with "sewage") that 94.7 The Wave has foisted upon a generation of ex-hippies looking for some sort of spiritual cleansing for their woodstockian digressions.

I passed this around to a couple people to see what they thought of it, but before long it wound its way back to my inbox. So, I thought I'd perhaps try take a stab at describing it, even though I think it's out of my league in terms of musical appreciation. Don't get me wrong, I used to know some of the names like Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, and Philip Glass. I just don't listen to these types of artists enough nowadays to make an informed opinion about stuff like this.

But speaking of Glass, Shapiro's music definitely has a sound that is similar, with repetitive but revolving major-key synthesizer lines running throughout the songs. In my opinion though, the music is not as minimalistic and actually has real pop structure at times, which is a good thing. As if patently aware of the gulf between artists who produce music that sounds brainy and artists who produce brainless music that sounds brainy, Shapiro lets in enough of the real world to avoid relegation to the Yanni bin. There is a sort of AOR feel to some of the stuff which isn't at all unpleasant (well geez, I AM over 30 years old) and all of the keyboards and instruments are clear and well-recorded. I liked the track Airbox the most out of the lot, though the flute parts (played very competently by Peter Hess) were at first a little annoying to me. But they grew less so after a second spin.

Keisha Hutchins, who accompanies Shapiro on three of the four songs on his EP, has a very nice, breathy voice. I don't know if this would be faint praise or a slam against her, but she sounds a little like Enya. Her voice is actually what kept my interest piqued, and I could easily see her contributing vocals to any number of indiepop and shoegazer bands.

All in all, I think if you're looking for that new age pop sound, this would be a good CD for you. For the indierocker in me, however, it's flown far above my head. But hey, at least it's not hate thrash metal or something!

- review by BY (5.15.03)        

Andrew Shapiro

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