The Intelligent Design of Joan of Arc



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