Dewy decibels: Asthmatic Kitty's 'Library Catalog Music'

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VARIOUS ARTISTS
Library Catalog Music, Volumes 1-3
(Asthmatic Kitty)

By Kimberly Chun

Remember the to-do concerning the Shins’ “New Slang” on a McDonald’s commercial? Those days of outrage seem so far away now, in the throes of the continuing recession and ever-deepening music-biz woes. Licensing your sonic slang out to TV, film, and commercial endeavors has become a way of life -- and a genuine ticket to recognition for many: Chairlift, whose “Bruises” popped up on an iPod commercial, is just the latest beneficiary of that success narrative.

So perhaps one of the oddest little musical artifacts to emerge amid those fading cries of “sell-out!” is this three-part series produced by Asthmatic Kitty. Library Catalog Music looks the phenom squarely in the eye, as its promo literature queries, “Are you a major multi-national corporate conglomerate looking for quickly recognizable audio branding?” I wish. Actually, I don’t wish. But like so many others, I can use the cash, and apparently Asthmatic Kitty can, too -- though not without a certain level of integrity. These overt entries into the marketplace wouldn’t be too out of place among some of your more enticing Euro-ambient discs. Vol. 1, Music for Lubbock, 1980, dares to tug on the tails of Ry Cooder’s Paris, Texas, while Vol. 2, Music for Measurements, brings the funk to imagined buddy cop flicks, and Vol. 3’s Music for Drums yearns to set the beat to sci-fi fantasies. Who dreamed these ready-made scores up? Bellevue, Wash., band Law of the Least Effort takes the credit -- led by sometime Pedro the Lion and Seldom member Casey Foubert. Quality aural wallpaper -- coming right up.