Obviously a collection of B-sides, bonus tracks, and other assorted odds and ends is the worst entry point for appreciating any group's regular work. But for Chicago's post-rock/laptronica technicians Joan of Arc, it's the perfect litmus test of how much Joan you wanna own. The warble of singer, guitarist and mastermind leaves no room for fence sitting you either find it room-clearing or chair-grabbing. Assuming you've sat down, you float through the quiet droning mantra of "You (Single)" to "Trial by Orleans," where ground switch noises are looped for maximum annoyance. Sure, anyone with a Radio Shack gift card could come up with these sound experiments. But it's the fact that these schemers use 'em to bookend a song where they've also gone through the trouble of overdubbing faintly audible horns that proves there is a method to Joan of Arc's brand of audio compounding. They even pay homage to their emo roots by covering a track from pals the Promise Ring, unplugged and with sleeve noises rubbing against the mike. Careless minimalism that may be a new category.
Serene Dominic writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.