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i have nothing
CD Album 2005 | Silber 043
15 tracks, 50 minutes
$12 ($18 international, $5 download (256 kbps, ~97 megs))
: Listen to the track push
: More info
track listing: push, wisconsin bombs, providence, marianas, cymbol, walking otis, caterwaul, children with horns, trout, shaitan, eventide, 2i.gst, crispin glover, alpha, stella and me
"I have nothing." Certainly not the most elaborate of album titles, but possibly one of the most austere and accurate in terms of the ground covered on the disc. Nothing is Everything and Everything is Nothing. This is something I covered in a Crowleyian manifesto called the Cycle of Naught for when I was seventeen or maybe even sixteen and it was covered by some turtlenecked shitter before me when he invented the glass half full half empty formula for assessing a situation.
You can look on this album as something balefully beautiful, something encompassing the vacant yet vast landscape of the world and its tethered heart, or you can look on it as a moribund shoegazing exercise in go-nowhere bleakness. You'd be right either way, but the former is less myopic and more deferential to the sentient Bipeds who conceived of its meticulous flow.
And it does flow. Like galvanized particles running through circuitry, circuitry buzzing through power lines or winds propelled through lonesome vistas, themselves abuzz with their own electric and achingly profound singularity.
The sounds here are what your emotional make-up allows them to be, but only a primordial douchebag could decipher anything less than vast and carefully researched universal orgiasm from the proceedings.
This isn't Noise in the sense of "Let's piss everybody off," which, in itself, is valid in our Century. But it does contain a muted and, paradoxically, blaring Nihilism that tugs at what's left of the sinewy, scar tissue-stricken heart strings of the keen listener.
For the sake of the god of effigies DON'T read the song titles! There hasn't been anything this misleading since Marilyn Manson promised us the Apocalypse in Circus Magazine or Hit Parader, back in 1996. But suffice it to say that the tones and drones and tool-shed scratchy trenchant haruspex on something like "Cymbol" (You didn't read that title) is incomprehensible in any alphabetical combination. It surpasses language in written form. Like all worthwhile music, from Mudbelly and Mike Patton to Van Morrison and Maynard James Keenan. And "Crispin Glover" is as weird, multi-faceted and misunderstood as the human visage who goes by the name Crispin Glover.
By the end of that first song I shouldn't have mentioned by name, your hypothalamus is as serrated as your sixth sense, your guts are cowering in your asshole and your chest is thrust out like that of a mastodon on the defensive and you feel like it's raining Ronsonol in your weary eyes.
The next bit finds you opening those eyes, or maybe a new pair, hammered on Halcyon + On + On, in a virtual K-Hole, cocks at your feet and a screen door admonishing you of what the dog is about to bark. Billy's caught in a well or Janis is in jail and the sun is black and dripping something foul on your crop and maybe it's not even your crop and what's it matter anyway because there's something out there and you know what it is but you're not at all sure that you are prepared to grapple with it even as you plod ahead with patina-laden spade at your side, you palm bleeding from clutching it so hard and crystalline tears drying to a film in the corners of your curious peepers as a spacey vibe emerges and washes over you in a most foreign way.
Maybe it's not so hopeless. Or maybe. Maybe it is, maybe it's just another dreary night on the corner. But you'll never know the difference and that's what makes it all so absurdly gorgeous, so lustfully, delicately, immaculately perfect. It's why a David Lynch film makes you cum from the center of your chest in a quiet fashion, why you want to hug the old Eagle Scout for giving you Roy Orbison's "Cryin" in spiritually grinding and all-around perplexing Spanish splendor with a little blue box. We should all be so lucky as to dwell inside a radiator. Because the mystery is...
It just is. And its existence is reason enough.
~ Bob Freeville, Kotori Magazine

If Thousands are the duo of Duluth, Minnesota based Christian McShane and Aaron Molina, and joined on this album by members of GST & 2i, as well as Paul Metzger from TVBC. I Have Nothing is the band's second album for the Silber label (see AI #23), though their web site indicates there have been two other albums released since then.
If Thousands uses stringed instruments, electronics, horns, and even what sounds like accordion to create a series of 15 soundscape pieces, plus the occasional ethnic influence. You wouldn't believe the volume of ambient/soundscape submissions I receive, most of which are enjoyable though completely lacking in individuality. So it's refreshing when I hear artists using traditional instrumentation to create atmosphere and mood centered music. Furthermore, If Thousands set themselves apart from the rest by making brief statements in the 2-5 minute range in a genre where lengthy excursions are the norm. While this type of music typically requires room to stretch out and develop its themes, If Thousands succeed by being concise. Whether it's an awareness of limitations or otherwise I can't say, but for this listener the result is a collection of soundscape styled "songs"… a collection of ambient aural short stories to enjoy in a weekend read. This is music you can put on the headphones and just get lost in. It's sparse… yet says so much.
~ Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations

This ambient duo has now produced six discs since their unusual entry into the ambient music world when this classically trained vocalist/guitarist & punk bassist dropped their known instruments to create music on instruments they didn't know how to play.  Give me instruments I don't know how to play (which means any instrument not made by Hasbro) & the result could at best be charitably described as excruciating, usable as a weapon of mass destruction.  I'm sure they've come a long way since that initial concept, learning rudimentary grasps of the many instruments they use & using familiar ones as well, because I Have Nothing is certainly nothing if not musical.  They've also taken a couple of other unusual approaches as well, using all relatively short track lengths & recording the entire disc of improvisations in two days.  Considering the fully achieved creation of atmosphere, the latter is a striking achievement.  There's plenty of variation from track to track, some stark & foreboding, some lush & inviting, & some inbetween.  This variation emphasizes the short song aspect of the disc, yet there's a continuity at play that brings it all together.  Part of this continuity is due to the use of standard intruments like guitars, bass, banjo, accodion, horns, & cello for everything from lead voice to drones.  Electronic equipment is used as well, but the acoustic instruments seem to dominate & heighten the sense of individuality while serving to engage the less driftably inclined listener.
~ Mac Beaulieu, Expose

Rounding out the second Submission this month from Silber is this haunting release by If Thousands.  Slide guitars gently breathe against sitar-esque tones in almost heart-breaking beauty.  This is a very, very moving album.  This is very much a free-flowing album of tones & textures, but the use of acoustic instruments over the top gives it such a human, organic quality, you almost feel as if it's speaking to you.  It's hard to identify ones-self personally with an instrumental piece, but with this album, the seemingly-impossible becomes real.  A must-have.
~ Poseidon, Gothic Beauty

Hailing from Duluth, MN If Thousands' two main members are Christian McShane & Aaron Molina, & I'm pretty sure this is release number six.  This is a remarkably deep & beautiful record, & unusual for this genre, the IT boys have kept the pieces short.  Horns & strings coexist alongside the electronics on a set of dronescapes augmented by very real sounding instruments.  Kranky label fans, take note.  What this music does so successfully is envelope you.  Really.  Sure, you can nod off to the spooky wintry sounds.  But listen closely, & be rewarded with tracks that flirt with eastern sounds (the sitar on opener "Push") or the dramatically different "Crispin Glover," with its carnival-like atmosphere.  This is fifteen tracks of "musical art"... that you can daydream to.
~ Michael Pearlstein, The Big Takeover

If Thousands' I Have Nothing is a collection of experimental soundscapes and improvisational pieces. Although there are a few straightforward drone pieces like Providence and Eventide, there are also a number of tracks that go way beyond the norm of this genre, and the album is pleasantly devoid of incoherent noodling, showing that improvisation can indeed be put to good use. Push is a far cry from average experimental music, incorporating sounds that nod towards traditional Indian music and early country music. Cymbol incorporates windchime-like sounds into spacey ambient soundscaping. Walking Otis is a relaxing ambient piece with birdsong sound effects. Caterwaul is not the raucous noise the name suggests but an unusual mix of almost new-agey ambient relaxation music and a melodic guitar piece with a bluesy twang. Trout is an original mix of Middle Eastern style music and experimental sound effects. Crispin Glover is an excellent melodic keyboard and xylophone piece. Stella and Me is another example of ingenious eclecticism, comprising a bluegrass-influenced banjo melody and atmospheric synth or perhaps processed melodica. In a time when 'experimental' is just another cliche, used as shorthand for a kind of music that has ceased to be experimental as it's been done so many times before, If Thousands really can lay claim to the term. This album is a true experiment, combining various genres to create something that sounds fresh and new.
~ Kim Harten, blissaquamarine

On this, their sixth release, Duluth, Minnesota's If Thousands deliver fifteen stark, haunting dronescapes that evoke the loneliness (and beauty) inherent in wide open spaces. The album opens with "Push," a track whose droning organ and chattering guitars brings to mind Ry Cooder's work on the PARIS, TEXAS soundtrack. "Providence" is a dark, brooding piece, which sets up the flying saucer landing electronic flourishes of "Cymbal" nicely. "Children with Horns" (great title, and potentially a great band name) is more layered, with a horn section skronking over a drone bed. Within the context of the rest of the album the carnivalesque organ and upbeat, percussive plucking of "Crispin Glover" may seem slightly out of place, but again, the short piece serves to prepare the listener for another surprise; after a dronefest entitled "Alpha," the album ends with a sidestep into some high-lonesome banjo picking courtesy of Paul Metzger.
Had If Thousands main-men Christian McShane and Aaron Melina just strung these songs together, they would have had a kick-ass disc. Their close attention to sequencing and the ebb and flow of the songs makes it brilliant.
~ Neddal Ayad, Dead Angel

If Thousands comes from the snowy world of Duluth, Minnesota and is the project of both Christian McShane and Aaron Molina. I Have Nothing is their fourth release and is a return to their more experimental style established on their earliest releases. They use instruments in their recordings that they have little or no training on to make ambient, subtle music. They combine Indian textures with ambient soundscapes, among other things. Channeling the landscape where they live, If Thousands brings to the table a mix of interesting sounds that really communicate their environment.
“Push” begins this experimental exercise with Indian inspired textures floating upon slow drones sprinkled with other contrasting sounds. An accordion seems to breath in and out and the soundscape begins to stretch out for the listener. “Wisconsin Bomb” has a very lo-fi feel with stringed instruments and maybe a harpsichord or something that sounds similar. Pictured in my mind is the quietness of slow falling snow that wisps in the wind. It’s elegant even though it seems clunky at that same time. “Providence” flows out of this elegance with a loud, distorted drone. It’s almost angry as it travels along a bed of soft, quiet ambience.
“Marianas” begins in a more serene mood. Small, subtle ripples of sound wash over the listener while small layers of sound can be found midst the beautiful textures. This turns into a more chaotic rumble and includes some spacey sounds. “Cymbol” is a much darker piece with a more chaotic beginning. There are layers and layers of different sounds that eventually swim in a lighter toned chorus of ambience. This flows into “Walking Otis” with the chaos dropping out and a peaceful ambient piece starting. Keys rattle and a door opens, giving this peace a story telling feel. A bird chirps in the background as footsteps indicate someone, probably Otis, walking and going about his business.
“Caterwaul” has a beautiful, listful beginning with soft wind like sound and a glimmering drone that is almost playful. Quiet sliding guitar comes into the mix and adds a bit of a folk feel to the track. “Children With Horns” is a track that displays If Thousand’s abilities to play with volume. They are able to take you through a gamut of emotions and feelings with this track. “Trout” is a short track showcasing some guitar work mixed with miscellaneous sounds. This probably displays their experimental side the most.
“Shaitan” is also a very short track with a lo-fi style drone that whispers to the listener in tones like a whale. “Eventide” has a low rumble that fades in and out of the speakers. This is a very patient track that seems almost like something one could call ambient slocore. “2i.gst” plays off of “Eventide’s” sounds and mixes horn sounds to create a very deep and layered affect. “Crispin Glover” has more of a song structure with organ and some strange sounds keeping tempo. The track almost has a spooky, hypnotic feel. “Alpha” has a low drone with a high-pitched layer to it. The movement in the song has tension and beauty and really comes of the speakers as a dramatic piece. “Stella and Me” begins with Sufjan Stevens style banjo and has what sounds like the accordion. This folksy track finishes out the album on a light note and is quite apropos for the feel of the disc.
~~ Jason Lamoreaux,

This Duluth, Minnesota duo’s fourth full length combines the amniotic fluid soundscapes of their ‘Lullabye’ effort with more aggressive experimental sonic booms for another excellent entry in the Drone subgenre of minimalist post rock. Continuing their modus operandi of playing instruments they’ve never been trained to play (including accordian, banjo and cello!), the awkward, hesitant elements – mistakes, if you will – add to the album’s cautious, tense atmosphere as evidenced by its bleak, existential title. An exploratory intro, ‘Push’ meanders around the room like a lazy smoke ring before Christian McShane’s forlorn piano takes over the proceedings on ‘Wisconsin Bombs.’ ‘Providence’ is a slow, droning feedback exercise for Aaron Molina’s guitar that bleeds into the SETI soundtrack ‘Marianas,’ a humming, burping, bleeping wave of harmonic distortion that suggests that maybe there IS something out there!
‘Cymbol’ is perfect for walking through the woods on a snowy evening, its calm, floating electronics disturbed ever so delicately by glistening bells and the flickering snowflakes of Molina’s guitar with throbbing, humming baslines bringing a hint of Windy & Carl to the proceedings, while the numbing, speaker hum of ‘Walking Otis’ is clearly influenced by Eno and Stars of the Lid.
John Lennon once wrote “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” and the same can be said about listening to I Have Nothing. As you go about your daily chores listening to this in the background, you’ll hardly notice its subliminal influence until days later when snippets of Paul Metzger’s banjo on ‘Stella and Me’ or GST&2i’s (fog)horn outbursts (on ’2i.GST’) drift into your consciousness. As ambient electronic albums go, there is an amazingly warm texture to these tracks
This is definitely an album for the more discerning musical palette – there are no catchy hooks or memorable melodies…hell, there are barely any melodies at all (save the carnival-like atmosphere of the Metzger’s playful lute on the 81-second, childlike ‘Crispin Glover’). No, ‘I Have Nothing’ is just pure, unadulterated ambient drones, and is highly recommended to fans of Raymond Scott’s ‘Soothing Sounds for Baby’ series and the subliminal, speaker hum element of the snorecore brigade, such as Stars of the Lid, Azusa Plane and Windy & Carl.
~ Jeff Penczak, Ptolemaic Terrascope

Two guys in Minnesota decided years ago to grab a ton of instruments they'd never played and make music based on their inexperience. It has obviously worked for them so far, as I Have Nothing is If Thousands' 6th studio record, proving to be a slight but noticeable departure from their earlier works. Dusty AM radios drenched in reverb supply an austere atmosphere where banjo plucks fade in and out. Toy keyboards and cellos provide a bed for quiet horns to fall asleep in. Synthesizers slip in through the back door to slightly offset the organic nature of the record at times, but never overstay their welcome. What struck me is that even as loosely as these sounds appear on this album, there is no doubt that they're carefully applied and controlled. Nothing rushes out to grab your arm, this music just gives you a place to be and leaves you there. These sounds almost provide a blank canvas for you to fill in what is around you, whatever that may be. Soundtrack music. Driving music. Sleeping music. It will find a place to be appropriate. If you're into the desolate and roaming recordings of Stars Of The Lid or the deep warmth of William Basinski's "Disintegration Loops", or even more taken with the found sounds of Matmos or The Books you owe it to yourself to check out this release.
~ Sparkplugg

The third and perhaps purest form of drone worship comes with artists that don’t float any boats on their mountain lakes, plop any Joshua trees in their Dead Valleys and instead let the texture of the sound tell the story. recent things operating in this arena that have grabbed me are Sunn O)))’s consistent distillation of Black Metal into its base ink form, Pauline Oliveros’ Deep Listening Band, who enters actual subterranean chambers to explore the psych-physical properties of natural reverb, and projects like If Thousands, who could be one person, could be a whole team, that point their efforts in one common direction,or to put it in Ghostbusters terms, letting the beams cross to see what happens. Their album I Have Nothing takes the still orbital throb of Eno’s earlier work and adds a heavier, more human weight to it. Tracks like “Marianas” sound as if you are projected in the trench of its name, slight echoey throbs popping in to disturb the pitch-black stillness. Oddly enough, this album also has a track named “Providence” but this one takes on a darker tinge, like the sound of the gathering storm of an angry, vengeful god, while the ironically named “Caterwaul” is a more pastoral thing with slow moving guitars and sweeping lights bleeding through the piece. A great thing about this record is that the drones are long enough to get their own little macrocosms going without overstaying their welcomes. Drone artists are usually in it for the looooooong haul, and the listener generally have to be as well. But the phase shifting that makes “Children with Horns” percolate for four minutes is perfect. Any longer and it either takes on its own vision quest or become simply tedious. Most of the tracks on I Have Nothing shake the foundation like whalesongs, but there are a couple like “Crispin Glover” and “Stella and Me” accomplish the same efect with a simple pulsing melody, but the crowing drone achievement here is the cataclysmic “Alpha” that takes slowly bowed strings and ambient screeches ans squeals to create an evergrowing bubble of sound, that eventually fills up every inch of space in the room, absorbing everything in its path. Its less song-like than the previous two albums, but this is an excellent gateway drug to the world of drone music, that once it hooks into you and realigns your DNA, makes all other music seem fussy and superfluous.
~ Alex V. Cook, Outside the Left

I love these drifty, accordianlike, twanging opening noises. The album is beautiful so far... and it builds and grows and gains intensity, warbling... the picture on the back looks like a city buried in snow, which is quite what the CD sounds like... just being buried alive in sounds.
I Have Nothing consists of sleepy tunes for sure... perhaps going on a bit long for this sort of thing but if you just want a background sound to fall asleep to or something, this is it. It's choppy, lo-fi, a bit creepy at times. Just an endless sea of sounds. It cascades but the emotional bent of it doesnt change - always slightly on the cusp of something huge, therefore tense and energized. The subtle strings are very nice, relaxing. little country...
~ Andy Scheffler, CordMag

As an excursion into drone, sounds capes, and warm sonic blankets, I Have Nothing is the fourth proper full-length by Duluth Minnesota based duo Christian McShane and Aaron Molina — collectively known as If Thousands. Primarily an experiment with ambient sounds capes, I Have Nothing also flirts with the sounds of bluegrass and traditional eastern India. Choosing experimentation over the formal song writing structure, If Thousands invited bands GST, 2i, and Paul Metzer of TVBC into the studio for improvisational recording sessions that lasted two days. This album is the best results of this session. Recommended to fans of Windy & Carl, Stars of the Lid, Flying Saucer Attack, and Aarktica.
~ William Reed, Echo Magazine

If Thousands - Aaron Molina and Christian McShane's ongoing experiment in using instruments that they're not technically proficient in - rolls beautifully onward and upward with their sixth release I Have Nothing. Their approach has always been to try everything and anything, in order to stumble across unique atmospheres. They're always succeeded, at making music that wraps itself around you and pulls you in, yet each album has its own distinct aura. That's certainly true of I Have Nothing - if there were an If Thousands formula, this album would be the sound of them breaking free from it.
There really are no rules in If Thousands' creative world, yet here they seem especially into pushing their sound in new directions. The album opens with a distinctly Eastern-sounding elegy which also features an accordion and sounds like the beginning of a day, like a score for the sun slowly rising over a silent landscape. From there the album glides through a consistently compelling array of drones and moodscapes and gentle improvisation.
Sometimes there's a cloud of sound, ocassionally one instrument crying on its lonesome. Silence never seems too far away. Often they're in an Eno-esque ambient zone, though initial impressions of homogenity will erode the closer you listen. And occasionally they'll be an explicit change in tone, as with the delightfully odd "Crispin Glover", sort of a warped carnival tune, or the banjo-led closing number "Stella and Me". Even with the album's diverse textures, though, what often stands out most isn't one instrument but an overall feeling and sound. The overall aura is silently sad, perhaps, or quietly filled with awe...or as if we're caught in the middle of a contemplation, or the moment between thoughts. Winds howl, open spaces beckon, our minds empty into a pure state of just being.
Of course the feeling the album exudes will no doubt be different for each listener, or for the same listener in different frames of mind, yet the music certainly will provoke an emotional reaction, accompanied by a far-secondary intellectual one ( i.e. 'what instruments are they playing now?'). For a rich work with so many hidden corners, I Have Nothing also feels like one cohesive, even compact work, not like a maze you might get lost in. It offers expansive, involving atmosphere, but in a pointed, powerful way. It's the most inspiring recording yet from If Thousands, a duo in the midst of an exciting musical adventure.
~ Dave Heaton, Erasing Clouds

Hailing from Minnesota, duo Aaron Molina and Christian McShane, better known as If Thousands, have been dabbling in sonic experimentation and musical soundscapes since 2000. I Have Nothing, the band's fourth full-length, is the result of a two-day improvisational recording session with guests Paul Metzger on banjos and GST and 2i on horns. Blending more traditional, albeit sometimes unstructured, ambient/ethereal musical pieces ("pull") with experimental/noise collages ("marianas"), or sometimes combing the two (the lush ethereal synth and found sound blend of "walking otis", for example), the album is sonically interesting yet maintains a certain level of musicality. Impressively layered and processed, whether it be the disc's sparser ambient offerings or lush, rich sonic textures, the material here is an organic balance of strong improvisational instrumentation, processing that runs the gamut from reverse looping to pitch-shifting, and strong post-production and mixing.
While the album provides a fairly consistent, flowing soundtrack, certain pieces of the puzzle are rather inconspicuous while others definitely stand out. The aforementioned "providence" is rather compelling, a strong, full drone built around what appears to be processed strings and noise. "Cymbols", too, is particularly poignant, powerful synth passages atop layers of both straightforward and reversed metallic/percussive instrumentation. "Push", "caterwaul", and "trout" all add something of an eastern vibe to the music. The latter two are exceptionally strong with "caterwaul" focusing on the interplay between a lush ambient background and reverb-drenched string arpeggios, bends, and slides and "trout" taking a much more low-key approach with a sparser noise backdrop and more straightforward clean picked banjo.
"2i.gst" is another stunning track, largely horn based and blending the melodic and dissonant in an unsettling way not entirely dissimilar to Lydia Lunch's early work. The closing "stella and me" is, on the other hand, notably the most traditional musical track here, unexpectedly ending the album in a low-key bluegrass-tinged manner. The brief but memorable "cripsin glover" is, perhaps, its only competition in traditional musicality, simplistic and childlike in terms of sound and instrumentation; partially underpinned, however, by a darker layer.
If Thousands' I Have Nothing, as a whole, is a relatively solid and consistent album whose blend of sonic improvisation, instrumentation (and non-instrumentation) and interesting layering and production will likely appeal to those drawn to the experimental/noise end of the spectrum. However, from its sparser ambient drones to its lush, layered soundscapes, the album's overall sound and sometimes more melodic instrumentation and arrangements may also attract ambient and ethereal fans not typically drawn to…say…albums that use found sounds. At the very least, it's an interesting sonic excursion with lo-fi, organic appeal that deserves a listen from fans of the aforementioned genres.
~ Joshua Heinrich, Grave Concerns

Whilst shopping from Silber you might also want to check out If Thousands’ I Have Nothing, which also resides in the drone stratosphere but which offers something a whole lot less aggressive and more varied. Finely textured cloths of warm drones a la Stars of the Lid meet up with Indian ragas and dense clusters of sound dust that has me thinking about Flying Saucer Attack at their most abrasive. Nice.
~ Mats Gustafson, The Broken Face

Wonderfully sparse, yet engaging. One thing some experimental electronic projects do is noodle to the point of aggravation.  If Thousands incorporate enough shifts and shimmers in their music to keep my ears focused on what they're doing, and I appreciate that. I grow quickly weary of experimental music that's so incidental as to become the audio equivalent of a Thomas Kincade painting. Happily, this album is a far cry from that!
I have nothing travels blithely through my synapses and takes me to landscapes far from anywhere. Places deep under the ocean, out in the desert, or on another planet. The general feel of this album is that other people are not there. It gives the sense of just the listener, and some vast surrealist landscape. Any other life present seems not to be human, and makes me ponder, "What sort of creature would be making THAT sound?" Excellent!
Each track is solid and extremely listenable; there is no fluff, no filler, nothing to make a person want to reach for the "forward" button. Intertwined with the elegant sonic expanse is a lovely sense of humor, pointing as much to Ed Wood's "Plan 9 From Outer Space" as to Dali or Magritte.
Fans of a small good thing’s Slim Westerns series should definitely check this out.
10 of 10
~ Ginnie Moon, Lunar Hypnosis

The work from If Thousands, a band that consists of two individuals from Duluth, Minnesota, is called i have nothing and is indicative of the stark, barren world that is created from this recording. The music is bleak, at times swirling into a chaotic blend of steady guitar drone and harsh atmosphere. There is a streak of strange life found in the unlit worlds of i have nothing, most notable in “marianas,” where you’ll hear the noises of such creatures. As you walk through, your senses will be rewired. At times, you’ll feel threatened by a distant malevolence, and at others, you be soothed by a siren-like flow of melody that is no less dangerous.
If Thousands’ style of ambient is not as cultured and intense as you’d find from Obmana but then Obmana has been doing this for years and is refined in his development styles. However, their minimalist style is endearing, particularly the wailing guitar over synth found on “caterwaul.” The mournful horn found blended with the short instance of drone in “shaitan,” a grammatical variation of the word Satan, perhaps lifted from Brian Lumley’s excellent vampire world series (the trilogy found after the first 5 books in the original Deadspeak series), is effective although far too short. I would have liked a more threaded ambient work that ties all of the tracks together in a more thematic style. Regardless, If Thousands is on track to create deeper intensities of sound for future recordings.
~ Matt Rowe, Music Tap

This duo (Aaron Molina and Christian McShane) from Duluth, Minnesota make some marvelously evocative soundtracks to films that don’t exist; or films that only unreel in your mind while listening to this on headphones. Lonely spaces and places filled with a warm undertow like some sort of ambient lullaby beneath the outer melancholic desolation. Comforting and slightly disturbing; a couple passages are a bit like Eno’s On Land only with a bit more caffeine in the mix.
~ George Parsons, Dream Magazine

The first notes of the 'I have nothing' CD leave my speakers and at once I have to think about the earlier work by the Dead Hollywood Stars. It must be one of my favorites of the last couple of years. But rather quickly the opposite is proven by the album's makers, If thousands. It's just sounds and during the second track I ask myself why in heaven's name this isn't the second half of the first track. It would have fit perfectly.
The third track though is very hopeful again. 'Providence' is a great guitardrone where the sustain just balances on the edge of feedback. Towards the end of the track eratic sounds come forth. What are they, voices? Loose contacts? This is the ingredient for beautiful drones. Multiple undefined layer, either triggering or entrancing the listener.
I start reading their biography. "All musics evolves from the experiment. Entering the studio using instruments they had no training using". It answers a lot of my questions.
'Cymbol', the already fifth track of "the album with the short tracks", we hear Indian influences which are combined with guitar noises in a very nice minimalistic way. It's definitly (again) not bad at all, but I'm starting to get curious if the gentlemen experiment less and compose more. And exactly as I write it down my prayers are being heard; 'Walking Otis' starts. It is as if men are walking around in a studio playing and fooling around with shortwave radios and guitars. The tension structure is really gorgeous in this 5 minute 19 track; the second longest of the album.
But the drone-fun stops directly after the track. They're starting to play guitar again in 'Caterwaul' but I'ld prefer to play some old Hugo Race, or the soundtrack to Wenders' 'Paris/Texas' (by Ry Cooder). Other tracks worth listening to an this album are 'Children with horns', 'Eventide' '2i.Gist' and 'Alpha'.
The album isn't bad at all, but the 70/100 is based on a score of 55 for the seemingly endless experiments and a score of 85 for the few great drones / soundscapes which are on this album. Because they are most definitly worth it.
~ Bauke, Gothtronic

If Thousands music perfectly captures the bleak winter wasteland that is the upper American Midwest. The band was started in 2000 by Christian McShane and Aaron Molina. They made the conscious decision to make music with instruments they had no experience with. Their music sounds like early Flying Saucer Attack played at Loren MazzaCane Connors pace.
The album opens with the beautiful “Push.” An accordion moans as strings are gently plucked. It fades away rather abruptly. My only complaint about this disc is that I wish they let the sound pieces go on for longer. Some of the edits makes some of the tracks feel truncated. The music itself is amazing in its simplicity and its beauty. The photography on the cover by Joe Cunningham of monochromatic snow-scapes perfectly captures the expansive yet simple sound of the band.
“Wisconsin Bombs” may be one of the most misleading song titles ever. The song contains no explosions. It features only gentle guitar strumming and subtle electronic gurgles. “Providence” enters a Dead C like vein. It features a nice blast of guitar feedback and slowly bowed strings. If Thousands inhabit the space of the more abstract, non-rock-out jams of Jackie-o Motherfucker. The If Thousands sound simmers yet never boils over. The band never falls into the trap of wanky-ness which is very easy to do in an improvised setting.
One of the more startling tracks off this disc is “Alpha.” It is a dirge-y tune which features an organ and thumb harp. I found the track jarring and out of place at first. Slowly the sound grew on me and I became at peace with the demonic clown music. The last song on the disc, “Stella and Me,” is another pleasant surprise. It is a nice ditty which features accordion and banjo; it enters late-era Fahey territory. If Thousands music is minimal yet wonderfully home-spun. It will definitely get you through some cold nights out on the prairie.
~ Dan Cohoon, Amplitude Equals One Over Frequency Squares

Slow, sorrowful, and lush dronescapes that unfold calmly and thoughtfully. This album is like the quiet before the storm - every track seems ready to explode with energy but manages to contain itself all the way through. I Have Nothing is confident and methodical - easily absorbed and brimming with emotion and conviction.
~ Everything is Fire

Despite their five years of existence, four albums and three EPs, I never heard of If Thousands, the duo of Christian McShane and Aaron Molina. They return, so I am told, here to the more experimental days when they first started out. They receive help from Paul Metzger of TVBC on banjo and GST&2i on horns. Together they recorded this album during a two day studio improvisation, which were mixed by Ben Durrant later on. If Thousands play drone music that takes their drones from guitars (unlike others who use synthesizers or field recordings - to make the difference a bit sharper) and the music they come up with here bears resemblance from the likes of Stars Of The Lid or Windy and Carl - the beatless form of post rock. Heavy mood music with a darker touch. Slow waving tones, with guitar pedals stuck firmly in endless modes form the backbone of many of the tracks and on top they play a sparse melody or sometimes merely a set of tones. Gentle music with a darker edge to it. Maybe not entirely uplifting, but certainly one that could settle the mood on an autumn evening.
~ Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly

Remember when Bill Clinton asked the Supreme Court to answer the question of what “is” is? If there were a soundtrack to that bizarre philosophical tap dance, if thousands certainly would be it. If thousands is a pair of collaborators who ask us to define the meaning of another basic human impulse: music. I have nothing presents an ellipsis of unresolved, repetitive meditations on sound and composition. The all-in music approach is just as slick as Clinton’s evasive testimony, masterfully rebuffing intelligent criticism. Please define what you mean by “songs”? There aren’t any here. The guitar riff of “Wisconsin Bombs” returns deeper into the album on “Caterwaul,” and more unifying moments like these would help lift the record out of its boring ambient soup. If thousands of industrial/ambient sounds were captured on tape, this is what you would get. What sounds like the dull side-project of two guys in some rock band least in demand for interviews is out capturing samples and background noises for their proper outfit’s magnum opus. Maybe when the swaggering rockers of the band are back from their photo shoot they’ll complete the ellipsis.
~ Steven Green, Altar Magazine

Le duo composé d’Aaron Molina et de Christian McShane, If Thousands, expérimente depuis ses débuts, en 2000. Ambient, distordues et lentes, les voies musicales empruntées, pas toujours vierges, menaient tantôt à des lieux inconnus, tantôt à l’ennui. Le nouvel album, I Have Nothing, est un virage important pour If Thousands, comme le confesse d’ailleurs McShane sur le site du groupe. En effet, la manière même d’aborder la musique a changé : les morceaux, courts, directs, se révèlent enfin beaux, captivants et poignants, même si l’originalité n’est pas tellement au rendez-vous.
If Thousands jouent sur les infimes variations de lumières, sur l’absence apparente de contrastes ; I Have Nothing est sombre, voire lugubre. Il n’y a pas réellement de silences : de manière quasi omniprésente, une nappe de claviers, grave, obscurcit encore le tableau.
Sur "Walking Otis", on glisse de notes en notes, porté par des sons enregistrés : des bruissements de vêtements, une cuillère qui tinte, des pas dans la neige, et des rafales de vent qui permettent un enchaînement tout en douceur avec "Caterwaul", morceau moins opaque, avec sa guitare délayée, balbutiante. "Children with horns", invitant un cor somptueux (superbe aussi sur 2i.gst) à nous émouvoir, complète ce triptyque grandiose, à faire pâlir de jalousie les Stars of the Lid, Dead Texans et consorts.
I Have Nothing n’est pas un disque de tous les instants, et il n’en a pas la prétention. C’est un disque qu’on écoute quand on sent que le moment est venu, un disque que l’on garde pour plus tard, au chaud. Mais une fois qu’on l’écoute il reste en tête longtemps, jusqu’à ce qu’on décide de le réinsérer dans la platine. Le bref final "Stella and I", sorte de ballade nostalgique et instrumentale presque country clôture l’album idéalement, de manière apaisée et apaisante.
~ Quentin Deve, Soit Dit en Passant

Deux sorties simultanées sur Silber Records (le label de Lycia) et très ressemblantes l'une de l'autre dans un genre atmosphérique expérimental. Kobi est un collectif norvégien d'une quinzaine de musiciens qui jouent avec les bruits des machines et ceux d'instruments réels (guitare, percussions...). Neuf de ces musiciens et deux années de labeur ont pu donner naissance à ce deuxième opus (deuxième album en effet pour Kobi mais loin d'une récente mise à l'épreuve pour les musiciens qui composent le collectif !). Très sombre, presque dérangeant, Dronesyndrome est à écouter d'une traite, à haut volume et à plusieurs reprises pour en saisir tout l'intérêt. Le titre "Anchored to a Central Core of Saturated Intensity" (oui tous les noms de l'album sont aussi longs !) est particulièrement angoissant et l'on entend nettement l'apport qualitatif des deux types d'instrumentation. On sent tout de même un travail de recherche artistique tellement professionnel qu'il s'adressera davantage aux connaisseurs. De son côté, If Thousand, duo américain à l'origine mais complété pour cet album par d'autres instrumentistes (un rapprochement vers le collectif également donc), semble appréhender la chose de manière plus abordable même par le plus novice d'entre nous en matière d'expérimentations sonores. Leur I Have Nothing est proche de Dronesyndrome de Kobi en cela qu'il apporte au moulin de nos torpeurs de l'eau viciée et bel et bien vibrante. Mais leur mélange pluri-instrumental à eux donne un résultat plus mélodique, planant et touchant, moins sombre en tous cas et orienté davantage vers des contrées indiennes que nordiques.
~ Dawn, From Dusk till Dawn

Une photo en noir et blanc. Quelque chose comme une zone marécageuse, prise pas la glace et recouverte d’une couche de neige, dont n’émergent que ça et là des tiges de graminées, plus loin le paysage se perd dans le flou d’un brouillard hivernal, de ceux qui décident de rester accrochés au sol des jours durant. Puis la musique, des dronescapes, comme l’annonce le label, mais agrémentés ça et là de banjo, de guitare réverbérée et de cor.
On oscille entre contemplation de paysages inhospitaliers tels celui en couverture et quelques instants de rédemption où l’on croise sur le sol les traces d’un petit mammifère ou d’un oiseau, ou lorsque déjà sur un buisson rabougri et catatonique se dessinent parfois prise dans la glace les formes arrondies de bourgeons déjà dans le compte à rebours du printemps à venir.
If Thousands est un duo formé par Aaron Molina et Christian McShane. I have nothing est leur sixième album, on ne s’étonnera pas que le groupe montre une certaine compétence qui les inscrit dans la lignée d’un Stars of The Lid de retour sur le plancher des vaches et arpentant, songeur et emmitouflé, quoique pas loin de grelotter, les immensités hivernales.
~ Didier Goudeseune, Derives

Docela by m? zajímalo, co p?im?lo ost?ílené hudebníky po t?icítce, aby si sedli do zkušebny, položili p?ed sebe nástroje, na které neumí hrát a založili improviza?ní duo. Aaron Molina je basák-punker, zatímco Christian McShane oproti tomu profesionáln? školený zp?vák a hrá? na cello, odkojený americkým folkem a vážnou hudbou. V roce 2000 tedy vzešla na hudebním nebi domovského minnesotského zapadákova, které se honosí jménem Duluth, improviza?ní jednotka jménem If Thousands. Prvotní zadání zn?lo "poj?me vytvá?et zvuky na nástroje, na n?ž neumíme a ani nechceme um?t klasicky hrát" a na tomto dodnes nezm?n?ném základ? b?hem p?ti let zplodili ?ty?i alba a další t?i EP?ka. Naposledy se takto sebrali b?hem lo?ského roku, do studia Crazy Beast si pozvali jako hosty banjistu Paula Metzgera (jinak TVBC) a big band GST & 2i a za dva dny byly základy alba I Have Nothing na sv?t?.
Aaron a Christian si na p?edchozích deskách ov??ili, že jsou schopni improvizovat se svojí hlukov? kytarov? atmosférickou hudbou dlouhé minuty a nová deska byla pokusem, zda jejich improvizace bude fungovat i na ploše mnohem kratší, s klasickou písni?kovou stopáží. Navíc do svého arzenálu p?izvali zvuk velebných hammondek, které smy?kují stejným zp?sobem jako kytaru, cello nebo jiné nástroje. A výsledek? Velmi barevná skládanka, složená protentokrát z drobn?jších kaménk?, funguje stejn? dob?e jako na rozlehlých plochách p?edchozích alb. P?íbuzné hledejme ve Stars Of The Lid, A Small Good Thing (hlavn? alba Slim Westerns) nebo t?eba v Ry Cooderovi a jeho soundtracku k filmu Paris, Texas a nakonec taky ve velkém vzoru Brianu Enovi, jehož album On Land je možná ?ast?jším spoušt?cím mechanismem tvorby mnoha dnešních alternativc? než oslavované Music For Airport. Poslech nosi?e m? p?enáší do uvoln?né atmosféry líného ned?lního odpoledne v tiché, dob?e vyh?áté zkušebn?. A k této tv?r?í atmosfé?e se múzy slétají samy.
~ Pavel Zelinka,

“I Have Nothing” è il miglior disco degli If Thousand, due musicisti di Duluth, Minnesota, innamorati di quelle atmosfere speciali che si respirano nel mezzo di lunghe nottate passate a ricalibrare i sensi disorientati. Con il nuovo disco la musica di Aaron Molina e Christian Mcshane perde alcuni dei connotati industrial che avevano caratterizzato i loro precedenti tre album e si avvicina ad una forma di ambient alla Stars Of The Lid (o alla Aarktica per rimanere in casa Silber). Le quindici composizioni di “I Have Nothing” sono variazioni sul tema dell’impalpabilità: Providence è un drone costruito sul feedback di una chitarra elettrica che sfuma all’orizzonte; Marianas sono bagliori persi nella nebbia; Walking Otis rimane sospesa sul nulla per tutta la sua durata; Children With Horns azzarda un lieve crescendo a suo modo entusiasmante. Se oggi i Labradford si riformassero suonerebbero così.
~ Roberto Mandolini, Losing Today

A quanto pare, oltre che per Bob Dylan e i Low, a Duluth nel Minnesota c’è spazio anche per gli scenari siderali evocati da Christian McShane e Aaron Molina, più noti come If Thousands. Il loro quarto album, registrato in appena due giorni di sessions, allarga i confini infiniti del drone intrecciando suoni raga (“Push”) e bluegrass (“Trout”, “Stella and me”) alle fini tessiture ambientali che caratterizzavano le loro prove precedenti. “Cymbol” e “Caterwaul” navigano leggere nell’oscurità seguendo la scia di stelle oscure come Flying Saucer Attack e Stars Of The Lid, le solenni “Children with horns” e “Walking otis” emergono da abissi imperscrutabili come oscuri presagi, memori dei Main e della tensione latente nei primi Labradford.
~ Raffaele Zappala, Rockerilla