Full – Dimstar

Full
Dimstar

The band name Full is fitting, as Dimstar is most certainly full, mostly courtesy of a band arrangement that involves a violin, vibraphones, a trumpet, a saxophone, a cello, and various electronic tweakings. Unfortunately for Full, though, these wild combinations aren’t necessarily used to their best abilities, thanks to a number of things – mainly, the overabundance of musical elements occuring all at once, as well as the fact that Full really does seem to be trying way too hard to be avant-garde on this release.
See, the general base of Full seems strong enough – the musical structure of the band is actually fairly unique, for the most part (thank you, vibraphones) and above all else, vocalist Ms. Wings has an absolutely stellar voice – her vocals and harmonies would be absolutely show-stopping if they were placed upon a better established musical backing. The music, however, is the weakest link throughout Dimstar, as this record is very, very spotty.
The main musical issue is that on the more upbeat ‘pop’ songs, the band is quite obviously trying to stray from the conventional pop sound by adding a few twists (mainly in the vein of chotic/dissonant song elements). The problem is that the entire concept gets lost due to overkill, and the band’s concept of ‘avant-garde’ turns itself into ‘uncontrolled and unlistenably out in left field.’ The weird part about this is that it only seems to occur on the more peppy numbers. The slower, more laid-back tracks are by far superior to the other material on Dimstar, mostly because the band seems to ease up on the desire to make people say, “Oh, man, aren’t they kooky?” The discretion shown on the slower tracks is obvious, as it makes for noticeably improved music.
The opening tracks are perfect examples, as the sugary sweet vocal track of the title song gets completely lost in an over-indulgent six-minute musical train wreck. Not only are too many things going on musically, but a majority of them are arranged to seem slightly out-of-place and dissonant, which just completely guts any chance that the song has to build momentum (one slighly-off musical element is ‘dissonant’ – five of them is ‘chaos’). “One/0/7” is another overblown musical affair (though on a much smaller scale), while “Money 3.1” just sort of aimlessly takes up a minute-and-a-half of album space.
Now, it really could’ve been east to completely write off Dimstar as a clusterfrigged, over-indulgent artsy mess at this point … And then the band whips out the surprisingly cool and way creepy “Been Had,” which seems to serve as a sufficient example of exactly how well this album as a whole could have turned out if only Full would’ve shown a little self-control in the musical arrangement category. The vibe on this song is incredible, all meloncholy and mournful and almost funereal, and it seems that with “Been Had,” Full accurately gets across the unconventional vibe that it seemed to be attempting to find over the previous few songs.
The early four minutes of “Parachute” drag a bit, but at the four-minute mark, the track begins to wind up into a satisfying vocal and violin piece that honestly makes the track worth listening to on it’s own. “Still” is actually a very solid, minimal piano ballad that accentuates Ms. Wings soothing voice with some subtle outside wind sounds. Outside of the aforementioned, though, the disc’s only other solid listen is the tragically beautiful “Mourning After,” which all but defines the as-yet-unmentioned song genre dirge ballad. The vocals are beautiful, and the interspacing of the drawn-out vocal passages with trumpet and violin solos adds a nice sense of emotional punctuation to the track.
Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot else positive to say about Dimstar. On “Break,” the band strays out into a bit of an industrial/electronic feel, but any momentum build on the track’s open is killed by the overactive and chaotic chorus structure. The psuedo-tender “Trip Up” works well at times, though the song as a whole never really gets off the ground. “Tiptoes” relies way too heavily on an oddball vibraphone run, while too many of the other tracks (“Numbers and Weather,” “Allergic,” and “Flit”) are just useless time-filling interludes.
The low-key material on Dimstar works very, very well, because Full offers up the unconventional in smaller, more subtle doses on those songs. This allows the songs to establish character, unlike the crazier, more upbeat songs, which never get a chance to develop (thanks to the tracks being buried under a wall of avant-garde dissonance). While there are a few decent listens amongst the dissonant Dimstar, it’s going to take some REALLY tolerant listeners to be able to find the diamonds in this sack of musical coal.