Home Video - No Certain Morning Or Night
Record Label: Defend Music
Release Date: October 3, 2006
Home Video is an electronic indie band composed of vocalist/guitarist Collin Ruffino, programmer/keyboardist David Gross, and for live shows, drummer Jim Orso. Their debut album No Certain Morning or Night is, in one word, creepy. Their music is the quintessential backtrack to walking alone at night; while calming, it is dark and unsettling at the same time. The music is minimalist, as electronic beats pulse behind bass synthesizers and rudimentary guitar melodies. Singer Collin Ruffino’s melancholy tone and dark lyrics complete the band’s creepy atmosphere. No Certain Morning or Night was released in the fall of 2006, but in preparation for their upcoming third full length album, Here In Weightless Fall, I decided to begin my set of reviews for them on this terrific website.
"Sleep Sweet" opens the album with atmospheric noises and the melancholy narration of Ruffino, “Sleep sweet, everything is alright. Your burning eyes can feel the cool of rest..” as a deep bass line and steady drum programming enter the mix. A moody guitar melody begins to push the song with the bass, and Ruffino continues to croon in his mournful tones. "Sleep Sweet" manages to be downbeat, yet intriguing, as Ruffino’s multi-tracked, nasal vocals and Gross’ delicate lead synthesizers add melody to the song. Ruffino solemnly intones, “I am here to quench your thirst, I am here to make it work. Nothing bad will ever happen as long as I am here,” while delayed guitar melodies and a pumping beat end the song.
The second song, "Penguin", begins with an effects-laden guitar progression and muted background synthesizers. A dark beat begins and Ruffino’s relaxed vocals take their time to reach his point, “My voice is empty without you, let me sing to you,” and in general the track is characterized by a more subdued tone. Ruffino seems to be left alone, and pleas, “I feel the size of an empty bed, how will I find you?” while reverberating lead guitars and simple drum programming push the song to an end. Track three, "Superluminal," features a catchy, distorted beat and shifting atmospheres behind slow, brooding synthesizer lines. Ruffino’s voice is higher than before, more clearly pronouncing his words, “Suddenly, my life is in my hands. And I’m choking, blue in the face” with palpable anxiety in his voice. Slow, simple guitar chords fill the gaps in between his singing. Superluminal is one of the more immersive tracks, as the song begins to develop into a richly layered landscape, with thick programming and melodic delaying. It ends rather abruptly on the same beat that began the song.
Track four, "Dialogue Box", is more nostalgic sounding, as Gross’ programming is uniquely fluid and immersive to the listener. The track in general is more thought provoking, as the simple beats and dark synthesizers add depth to Ruffino’s narrations. Number five, "That You Might", is more direct and grabs the listener with a thick bass line and sharp drum programming. Ruffino is backed by muted synths and a crackling snare sample, moodily addressing the human condition, “There is a helpless need for human touch. We are made to be ignorant and quiet, we give it up for nothing.” "That You Might" is a louder track, as guitar distortion is used for the first time on the album, and the music is more heavily layered than before.
Track six, "Gas Tank", begins with dark keyboard reverberations and develops into a more subdued, slower track. Ruffino’s voice is, as always, nasal and melancholy. The song is similar to past tracks, yet still does not feel out of place, as smooth keyboards and a slow pace seem to give it room to breathe, allowing the listener to reflect on Ruffino’s messages. The seventh song, "Pidpunk", is driven by a fantasy-laden synthesizer melody throughout the entire song. Ruffino’s vocals are edited with reverb, soaring behind the claps and kick drums pumping in the mix. "Pidpunk" is one of my favorites on the album, as Ruffino’s voice is smooth and the track flows easily for the listener. Number eight, "Confession of a Time Traveler", uses an unwinding synth line and uptempo drum programming. This track is similar to other tracks again in Ruffino’s moody intoning, but manages to assert itself as different with a driving bass guitar line and a chaotic dissolution at the end of the track as Ruffino sharply describes futuristic nuclear fallout.
Number nine, "We", is a lighter track with soft keyboards and scratchy drum programming. The song takes time to build, as only Ruffino’s voice and mellow synthesizer overtones enter the mix for the majority of the song. The song is somewhat repetitive, but the effects of reverb and delay make the song feel more fluid and likeable.
The final track, "Melon", is my personal favorite on this album. It is supposedly their first song written together, and in my opinion is their best. The song is stripped of many layers that have been seen on the album, only relying upon a mellow lead synthesizer line, Ruffino’s narrations, and a kick/snare drum backtrack. As Hemingway tried to show, less really is more with minimalist writing. Ruffino’s lyrics are given extra clarity with less instrumentation, “Lights were smashed and all was silent, the pitter patter of snow and ash, wheezing in my breathing mask.” "Melon" is a slow song that continues in the same musical pattern for about three minutes as Ruffino’s lyrics are given ease to develop a muted, snowy landscape of destruction and urban decay. The track peters out with low pass filtered synthesizer lines and Ruffino’s final words, “Gun to head, marching into Hell. Monster heed the tolling of the bell, a portrait of the life to come,” followed by a minute and a half of silence. A hidden instrumental section of the track comes in once the song seems to have completely finished, featuring clean guitar melodies and chords backed by a distorted programming pattern. The hidden outro is layered with Ruffino’s melancholy croons, a staple of the album. Compared to the other songs on No Certain Morning or Night, "Melon" is the most easily accessible and thought provoking track, and a great way to end the album, even if it is seven minutes long.
Overall, No Certain Morning or Night is dark, yet calming and relaxing, like a walk through the woods late at night, with heavy things on your mind. Collin Ruffino’s melancholic crooning and David Gross’s minimalist songwriting fit perfectly together, forming a band that is uniquely in a league of their own, transcending labels like indie or electronic music. Home Video’s music may not be immediately satisfying due to their slower tempos, but given a fair chance, they may just become your new favorite band to listen to on a long drive through the night.