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coverpic flag US - Kentucky - Full Moon 105 - 04/24/05

Marbles
Expo
SpinArt

Robert Schneider is a busy and ever-productive man. Just after putting the Apples in Stereo (AiS) on hold he unfolds with a new outfit, ulysses, which put out their debut a few months ago. Then he brings his old solo project Marbles to life again, and releases a brand new album recorded last autumn, almost 8 years after the first album, Pyramid Landing (And other favorites). Exposing 10 more pop-marbles from out of his head.

This time Schneider (as he told Pitchfork): "...wanted it to sound like ELO played by Gary Numan recorded in my living room." In the Pitchfork article he mentioned 10 artists/songs being the inspiration for the making of Expo. Except the alerady mentioned twosome these are some of the others on the list: Left Banke, the Cars, Brian Eno, Phoenix, Michael Jackson, and Hall and Oates! Quite some mixture. And; does it make sense and work? Yes. I guess the 'ELO feel' has much to do with Schneider's playing and toying around with a variety of keys: synth, piano, organ, mellotron, toy piano. He's also dealing with more programming and drum machinery (even though Hilarie Sidney of AiS/Secret Square/The High Water Marks and Jim Lindsay of Oranger/The High Water Marks sit in on a couple of songs each) than with AiS. And where ulysses sounds a bit more dark and gloomy Marbles roam the cold and almost quirky sounding synthetic 'terrain'. But it's pop, you bet.

The quite funny-electric sounding "Circuit" opens Expo. It's followed by the sort naive, 80s (a bit New Order-ish, or maybe New Order meets the Cars?) sounding "Out of Zone". "When You Open" is a dreamy pop piece more back to the 60s (and more back to 'old-school AiS'). "Magic" is to the core catchy indie-pop, trademark Robert Schneider - not far away frmo the AiS (tin pan) alley. A little piece of magic. There are a small fistful of instrumental breaks as well on Expo, such as "Jewel of India", the very short the title track and the trombone driven "Blossoms". What's Robert Schneider's force is to not exaggerate but keep things to a accurate minimum. The record clocks in at 25:32 which makes a perfect fix. And despite this being a Marbles album there are some 'Apples moments' as well, like the shiny "Hello Sun" and the tip-toe-popper "Cruel Sound" (nice guitar-scratch-riff!), and of course the former mentioned "Magic".

The elegantly swaggering "Move On" close the album and I wonder what'll happen next. Will Schneider's head pop out songs for a future Apples album? Or will there be more ulysses or Marbles stuff? As long as the writer is the same bloke I'm happy enough. Expo is a a charmer.

Copyright © 2005 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Marbles article/review: I Love The Summer b/w Our Song (For Eirene).

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