Holy Fucking Shit! This Album Is Amazing!!! That was my expression of XXL upon listening to the first track, “Sunday / Paw Paw Paw Paw Paw Paw Paw.” I was amazed at the power behind XXL, a collaboration between Jamie Stewart’s Xiu Xiu (MySpace) and Italian post rockers Larsen (MySpace) for the Important Records release ¡Ciaütistico!
XXL have created a delightfully obscure experimental album in ¡Ciaütistico!. Naturally, Jamie Stewart’s pained whispers clash dramatically with his agonizing screams—both common traits of Xiu Xiu. But with the added instrumentation of Larsen, Xiu Xiu’s oft lack of a rounded-out background sound is erased as strong percussion keeps steady beats amidst random, sometimes unidentifiable instruments.
I love Xiu Xiu and Stewart’s tendency to go from quiet to loud in both voice and instrument is what makes Xiu Xiu such a powerful force. However, with Larsen filling in during many of the the quieter sections, it is obvious this collaboration is definitely something special.
From “Paw Paw Paw Paw Paw Paw Paw,” the album turns to quieter tracks like “Minne Mouseistic” and “Lipstick Fair”, which enhance Xiu Xiu’s habit for quiet songs. Larsen adds obscurity in such tracks, clarifying that Xiu Xiu is not acting alone. “Prince Charming” follows the opening track, with dueling percussionists backing minimalist electric guitar riffs and Stewart’s pleasantly eerie, but starkly coherent wails. An obscurity, namely in terms of Xiu Xiu, are the tracks that are peaceful and calming like the instrumentals “Birthday Song”, “Ciao Ciautistico”, and “Sunday”.
I was initially unsure whether or not to buy ¡Ciaütistico!, but even before the in-depth analysis and before delving beyond the the first track, I was sure I made the right decision. And after the analysis and after listening to the entire album, I stand by my initial statement: Holy Fucking Shit! This Album Is Amazing!!!
This review was originally posted October 2, 2006 on the old version of FensePost.
Important Records [CD, 2006]
1. Paw Paw Paw Paw Paw Paw Paw
2. Minne Mouseistic
3. Ciao Ciautistico
4. (Pokey I’m Your) Gnocchi
5. Distorted Duck
6. Lipstick Fair
7. Prince Charming
8. Birthday Song