Dntel – After Parties 1 and 2 (Sub Pop, 2010)

Jimmy Tamborello aka Dntel is stuck in a bit of a rut. In the late 90s his career began to snowball; first hailed as a pioneering electronica artist he gained a cult following. In 2001 he released his first full length under the Dntel moniker Life Is Full Of Possibilities, which featured a smattering of collaborations, most famously with Death Cab front man Ben Gibbard. This one-time collaboration turned into a full on world-beating side project when the pair released Give Up as The Postal Service in 2003. The end of the Postal Service’s tour marked the end of Tamborello’s quick rise to fame and he went quiet for a while. He finally followed up with Dumb Luck in 2007, which featured a different guest vocalist on every track, as if Tamborello was auditioning people for the next Postal Service-esque surprise package. Unfortunately nothing on Dumb Luck reached the heights of Life Is Full Of Possibilites and Tamborello retreated and has since only released demos and reworks of older material as Dntel.

Now Dntel returns with a pair of EPs; After Parties 1 and 2, which immediately set themselves apart from his previous work through the mere fact that they are entirely lacking in vocals. As the title of the EPs would suggest, his aim here is to create something for people to dance to. Every song has a beat, decorated by lightly sprinkled synths and the inclusion of unthreateningly looming reverberations, the basic ingredients of any dance track. People could easily dance to this, my doubt is as to whether people would dance to this when there is so much else similar and more importantly, better, out there. The beats are tame, the additional instrumentation is boring and insignificantly different from track to track to even tell them apart.

The definition between the two EPs is almost indistinguishable, although  After Parties 2 takes a slight step off the dance floor to venture more into textural electronica akin to Pantha Du Prince, and has relative success on ‘Peepsie’ and the demented funfair electronics of ‘Aimless’. However, the majority of the tracks will have listeners wondering whether Tamborello accidentally put an early, unfinished version of his tracks on; so uninteresting and lifeless are the tracks that you can’t help but feel a certain lack of inspiration went into them.

It’s a sad state of affairs for an artist who started the last decade riding a vibrant wave of interesting and loveable electronic music. However, the start of this subsequent one finds Tamborello at the end of his party and sadly the only after party activity that these two new EPs are likely to soundtrack is sleep.

Rob Hakimian