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Music Review: Import/Export – Dayglow Whore [Double-LP Edition]

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The Seattle-based foursome Import/Export describe their music as “cinematic rock,” which is a tag I had not heard before. After listening to their new album Dayglow Whore, I found myself in complete agreement with this stylistic depiction. The group incorporates dreamy atmospheres, “found” sounds, and serene ambiance into their rock and roll on this fascinating 12-song set.

Import/Export is a great name for a band from Seattle, because as a port city, we do a lot of that here. I believe their intentions are more esoteric than geographical, however. Whether intentionally or not, the music of Dayglow Whore reflects certain influences, but the group “exports” them in a manner all their own. The four members of Import/Export are Chris Cullman (bass, vocals), Arsen Gogeshvili (keyboards, guitar, sampling), Jeff Meigs (drums), and Vince Tafoya (keyboards).

Dayglow Whore has been released on compact disc, digitally, and in a double-LP package. Since the band were kind enough to send me the 180-gram, colored vinyl edition, I think it is most appropriate to discuss it in that format. One of the great losses of the vinyl era is the art of programming an LP side. Import/Export have done a marvelous job of this with Dayglow Whore.

Side A opens with “My Favorite Heaven,” and the lush sound of the song does indeed have a cinematic feel. With two keyboard players on board, it is probably no surprise that there is a lot of atmosphere in the music. The tempo of “Flightless” is a bit stronger than that of “My Favorite Heaven,” but the musical textures are even more vivid. When Import/Export lock in to what they do best, it is a wonder, and “My Favorite Heaven” is a great example of it.

I would have been impressed if the rest of the songs on Dayglow Whore were variations on these strengths, as there is plenty to work from there alone. But the closing track on Side A takes things to a whole new level. “Terra Incognita” is aptly titled, and presents the group’s secret weapon, the drums of Meigs. The big drum sound he gets is magnificent, and adds a whole new element to a record that is filled with surprising twists. Another of these is the jazz-like solo during the break. “Terra Incognita” is film noir on vinyl, and another memorable piece of work.

Side B presents its own world, and shows why this recording is best experienced on vinyl. There are only two songs, “Death Is for the Living,” and “Summary Execution,” and neither are particularly long. As the titles indicate though, both are concerned with darker things. The two songs are definitely separate compositions, yet they share a mastery of shadows and light which can best be described as, well … cinematic.

There is another aspect to Dayglow Whore that makes the vinyl version of it especially attractive, and this is the art of the segue. Side C recalls the nearly forgotten device, as used by The Beatles on Sgt. Pepper’s… and Pink Floyd on Dark Side of the Moon.

The relatively brief “Flashes of Quincy” works as a quiet introductory piece to “One of Many.” More than any other song on the record, “One of Many” reminds me of The Church. Not that the cut is a carbon-copy of anything by my favorite Aussies, but more in ways that I think The Church have done so well over the years.

For all I know, Import/Export may have never even listened to The Church before. But there is a song on their 1985 album Heyday titled “Happy Hunting Ground,” which has a tremendous drum sound. The drums on “One of Many” recalled this for me. What really drove it home though were the atmospheres, which reminded me of something off of their brilliant 2009 disc, Untitled #23. This is probably all coincidental, but if one of the bands that Import/Export is “importing” is The Church, they could do far worse.

Flipping the album over for the final time, we come to Side D. As it turns out, this is the home to my favorite of the 12 tunes, the title track. “Dayglow Whore” is a wild song, and when the guitar comes in for a solo, it is like waking from a narcotic dream. “Dayglow Whore” segues into the grand finale, “Children of Night,” and this cut contains everything that makes the album as a whole so good. The drums, the keyboards, and the mysterious lyrics combine to craft a marvelous send off for the listener.

While I have focused on the vinyl edition of Dayglow Whore for the purposes of this review, there is much more to it available for those who download the iPad app. This app generates over 92 million morphing images and photos. The iPhone version is said to feature 655 years worth of viewing, all set to the soundtrack of the album. Amazing stuff! The band is currently on tour, and have released one of the more impressive recordings/art projects of the year.

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