Shaping the Invisible

Shaping The Invisible was the first great find with online music powerhouse, The site, which finds “the perfect music for you” by figuring out what technically constitutes your favorite songs then finds similar tracks in its vast libraries. The program itself is very much in its fetal stages, and as of right now, it is essentially a hit and miss affair. However, as with any all-or-nothing situation, there are occasional treasures. The crown jewel for me though is Thee Heavenly Music Association. The group consists of technical guru Dave Hillis and the elegant chanteuse Hellen Storer, as well as a revolving door of musicians, most notably Dave Krusen, manning the drums as well as a few other instruments when necessary. The group’s sound is pretty easy to nail down. Throw in equal amounts of The Jesus And Mary Chain and Kate Bush, add a hefty dosing of My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins, and polish it off with a dash of Slowdive, and you’ve got yourself the makings of Shaping The Invisible, Thee Association’s debut effort. Granted, this means that Ms. Storer and Mr. Hillis have not exactly broken any new ground with the album, but that is not necessarily a crime. Throwing in all the best of one’s indie idols and pressing “puree,” if done the right way, can make for a very rewarding listen. The Hatch, fulfills their duties by establishing a mood, an essential task for an album like Shaping The Invisible, as the songs flow and hypnotize to great effect. The album is so tight that they manage to cover Kate Bush’s indie standard, Running Up That Hill, without sounding like a cover band. Invisible stands up tremendously well when coupled with the album’s epic closing cover. Alain, Angelic Disorder, Trip Seat, and JiJi CryCry stand out especially, showcasing Storer’s graceful vocal talents and the duo’s gift for melody. The only significant drawback to the album is the mediocre production, which is surprising, considering that Dave Hillis has produced albums for a number of years. However, despite this shortcoming, Shaping The Invisible has quickly become one of my favorite albums. Hopefully, the group can rise out of its recent dormancy (their website has not been updated in nearly two years) and continue to carry the flag for all those who pray that the lessons of Loveless and Psychocandy will never be forgotten.