Blue Noon – Party in a Box

Blue Noon
Party in a Box

Usually, when I hear “lo-fi, electronic,” I tend to think of love-lorn yet cute acts such as Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, early Beat Happening, etc. Blue Noon on the other hand does not embrace you with a kitschy escape, as their music fails to ever fully rid itself of a deep and underlying anxiety. This theme was pervasive throughout much of the 80s as even the most flippant pop acts never seemed to fully rid themselves of doubt. The 00s are proving to be an uncannily similar decade of uncertainty and War Without End. Blue Noon take their strength from the knowledge that there is something sinister about pretending everything is fine while walking on the brink of destruction. “All Right” is a fine example of this: as the verse explains the hopeless hum-drum nature of the low-income individual, the refrain “It will be all right, tonight” is repeated as a hollow mantra, suggesting that “all right” can only refer to a numbing effect. One will never be happy, but perhaps one will be free of pain. The effect of geography (Blue Noon is from Saskatoon) can be felt in the expansiveness of the instrumental music, perfectly crafted for long road trips at night, as your car eats up road from horizon to horizon of black vacancy. In somewhere most consider to be quite remote, it must be easier to contemplate the demented and absurd nature of the world around us, since society might not make its demands in such an immediate way like it would if you were unemployed and without prospects in the streets of Chicago or New York City. This might explain the lurking quality to the music that denotes reflection, instead of the maniacal desperation which gripped synthpunk bands like Suicide, The Screamers, or their modern progeny. Even though Blue Noon rarely seem hip, or psychotic … their music has a tension that reels you in and a bargain-basement beat that is equally infectious.

“Party in a Box” begins with a loping one-string (detuned) guitar melody, which repeats for several measures before a drum machine enters with its insistent canned bass and toms. Soon, a synthesizer chimes in with a countermelody, and then the instruments are reduced to a bass drum and guitar while glitch effects shimmer throughout. The earlier arrangement returns with the addition of the aforementioned noises before the piece comes to a quick closure. The song title gives this instrumental track the suggestion that it is a product one could purchase. In a way the song comes together with such precise unfolding and addition of layers that it seems like a carefully assembled yet automated toy … the breakdown in the middle of the song suggesting cheap construction before the song begins again with the regularity and insular nature of a music box.

Balanced, varied, and inventive – yet cohesive – Blue Noon will defy your expectations, and with pieces like “Party in a Box,” they are a worthy keepsake for many a mixtape.