Grab Bag o’ Slack MP3s

Tiny Creatures‘s self-titled album has appeared on two different netlabels, as the seventh release from Birdsong ( and number six from Imaginary Albums ( And tiny these creatures are, the collection’s 26 tracks ranging from 28 seconds in length to just over four minutes, with the majority clocking in at under two minutes. The whole thing plays for about three quarters of an hour. While it resembles a box set, it plays like an old LP.

At that size, the pieces are more like sketches than songs, which means that the self-evidently electronic-oriented ones (the moan of “Alarm Clock,” the rinky dink industrial pop of “You Squig Me So,” the whirring, metrically advanced post-rock of “He Soiled His Pants”) lend the indie-rock ones the feel of found objects. Tiny Creatures emphasizes the heady quality of home recording as an end unto itself, rather than as a stepping stone to professional production. The song “Metro,” for example, is Syd Barrett’s idea of pop, a lovingly mangy psychedelia. Miked closely, the strings on “Put Your Pyjamas On” are less like a guitar than like some kitchen appliance called into service, and the semi-automated, Kid Koala-like “And Go to Bed” (actually “Auld Lang Syne”) will be a fine addition to any lo-fi holiday mix tape.

A one-minute cover of “Everybody Hurts,” perhaps R.E.M.’s last good song, plays on a kid’s xylophone against a churning electric guitar, as if some college radio station had stormed the Muzak Corporation’s compound and taken over for one summer afternoon. The song that follows it, “Git,” sounds like Sonic Youth being covered by Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin and Paco DeLucia. That kind of pointilist, living-room minimalism is a common thread here, right from the opening cut, “Fast Trilogy.” The occasional vocals, buried in the background if not in a pile of effects, seem to dismiss the idea of a song in favor of a mood, in this case one that’s slack, playful and looking for a quick, unobtrusive thrill.

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