what is the ken burns effect?
  • THURSDAY, JUNE 05, 2008

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The "Ken Burns Effect" is a technique used primarily in documentaries, when little or no video material is available. Instead, pictures are brought to life by panning and zooming in to areas of interest in stills. The music of Stars Like Fleas certainly feels like trying to bring stills to life; we're zooming and panning left and right on a still picture, but somehow, we're unable to find the main area of focus. Thus the multi-instrumental Brooklyn collective moves in confusing and awe inspiring slow motion with what seems like millions of layers of sounds.

Thus the name of the latest Stars Like Fleas effort, The Ken Burns Effect, is highly appropriate. But it comes after two previous albums of varied work, referred to as everything from electronic alternative to avant jazz with free improvisation. If a dormant powder keg sitting in the middle of a forest full of animals that keep coming close to sparking it made music, this would be it. The tracks are a quiet majesty, all of them seeming ready to explode at the slightest push of a fader.

The complexity is almost certainly due to the incredibly variety of members in the group, in addition to multi-instrumentalist Shannon Fields and vocalist Mongomery Knott, who formed the band in 1998. THey recorded one EP which perplexed everyone who heard it, and sold out immeidietly. Then the band disappeared for a few years, reemerging in 2005. The roster in addition to the two founders is constantly changing and with each recording gains new and interesting members (ex-members of Beirut and TVOTR to name a few). Yeah, these are the guys whose live show Grizzly Bear called "mindblowing." That's pretty enticing.

Are Stars Like Fleas a glimpse into the subconscious mind? It's almost like the kind of music you dream; disjointed and choppy on the surface, but at the core, all interconnected and beautiful. Instruments weave in and out of the polyphonic assault, almost like a days worth of noise compressed into five minutes. It's exhausting.

Try closing your eyes when you listen to their stuff. Just don't get lost in the cacophony. -joe puglisi

Stars Like Fleas live in NYC

6/14 - Record Release at Union Pool - Brooklyn, NY
6/28 - Union Hall - Brooklyn, NY


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MP3: Stars Like Fleas:: “You Are My Memoir” - The Ken Burns Effect
Stars Like Fleas on Myspace

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