Dntel, Life is Full of Possibilities (Deluxe)

Dntel, <i>Life is Full of Possibilities (Deluxe) </i>

Given that The Postal Service will be headlining this year’s Free Press Summer Fest, it seems appropriate to revisit the album that brought together Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and producer Jimmy Tamborello. Long before the Iron and Wine cover and years before the fervor of Give Up, Tamborello debuted his first studio release under the moniker Dntel. For its 10th anniversary, Sub Pop has remastered and reissued his 2001 debut, Life is Full of Possibilities.

As with any reissue, necessity and relevance will inevitably be questioned. Given the speed in which electronic music evolves, a 10-year-old glitch-pop album can sound as dated as, well, a 10-year-old glitch-pop album. Furthermore, the deluxe edition reissue includes 13 additional cuts, which could enhance or bloat the quality of the album.

Fortunately, time has been kind to Life is Full of Possibilities, and the album’s other-worldly atmosphere remains as beautiful as ever. Preferring to exist and explore the inconspicuous spaces of the ambient style, Life is Full of Possibilities is delicately subtle when compared with the current wave of IDM. As with all ambient music, the core album is at its best when none of the various layers takes a lead role.

Instead, elements of each song are carefully balanced and then collectively toned down. In “Anywhere Anyone,” a personal example of ambient bliss, Tamborello gently sweeps synths over Mia Doi Todd’s vocals, while slowly weaving together distorted white noise, chirping beeps, and a drum track. That same musical harmony is heard in “Last Songs,” which, despite being drastically different from the down-toned “Anywhere Anyone,” balances glitched-out acoustic guitars with unraveled and intermittent orchestration.

For 10 tracks, Tamborello successfully dedicates himself to creating music that abandon the need for full, active attention in favor for understated musical context that effortlessly incorporates into life. It’s an approach that has only gotten better with age. From the gradual swell of “Fear of Corners” to the iconic “(This is) The Dream of Evan and Chan,” the original, remastered Life is Full of Possibilities remains as one of the best albums of the early 2000s.

As expected, the devotion to subtlety is not seen in the remixes and B-sides of deluxe version of Life is Full of Possibilities. Reimaging someone else’s work is never easy, and success is up to interpretation. It’s slightly disappointing 9 of the 13 tracks included in the deluxe edition are from previous released EPs, when more previously unheard material might have allowed for a better appreciation for the original 10 tracks.

That being said, both the lengthy Superpitch Kompakt remix and the Lali Puna remix of “(This is) The Dream of Evan and Chan” do an excellent job of reinterpreting the source material. Likewise, the Nobody remix of “Anywhere Anyone” is quite possibly the best track of the deluxe edition — with the imposition of a cacophonous drum track, the Nobody remix clashes and fights against the palatial feel of the original version to create something that’s quite wonderful in its duality. Less successful is the vocal version of “Last Songs,” as the autotuned vocals are quite distracting and feel out of place.

As a whole, the deluxe edition tracks neither add nor detract from the overall Life is Full of Possibilities experience. Instead, the additional cuts are more an interesting footnote to an already excellent album, which returns us back to the original question: is this rerelease necessary and relevant?

Necessary? No. The 10-track 2001 release is brilliant in its own right, and the addition 13-track bonus material adds little beyond an extra bit of intrigue to revisit the album. Relevant? Absolutely. Any well-crafted and critically-lauded album should be a touchstone to which the genre should be measured. Life is Full of Possibilities is no different.

(Sub Pop Records -- 2013 Fourth Avenue, Third Floor, Seattle, WA. 98121; http://www.subpop.com/; Dntel -- http://www.subpop.com/artists/dntel; Dntel (Facebook) -- http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dntel )
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Tuesday, March 26th, 2013. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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