For the better part of a decade, Chicago indie-rock act Joan Of Arc and its ambitious leader Tim Kinsella have been ripping songs apart and putting them back together, in ways that have been frequently awkward and occasionally stunning. For Joan Of Arc's latest album, Eventually, All At Once, Kinsella busts out his acoustic guitar and his 8-track recorder, going for a stripped-down, rippling sound that fuses Nick Drake and John Fahey, with some random plunking inserted to keep the edge. At its best, as on the Doors-y "I'm Calling Off Falls From Grace," Eventually, All At Once evokes the deep psychedelic drone of the late '60s, though Kinsella's predilection for tuneless vocals and clumsy dissonance continues to keep Joan Of Arc from sustaining a mood for more than a few minutes at a time.
For a broader overview of what Joan Of Arc has been up to, try the simultaneously released compilation The Intelligent Design Of Joan Of Arc, which collects a decade's worth of singles and compilation tracks. The band's earliest songs—like "Trial At New Orleans," "Busy Bus, Sunny Sun," and "Stemingway And Heinbeck"—are some of its best; they build low rumbles and frequency modulation into sonic narratives, all about the tension of beauty and noise. The rest of the collection is more of a mixed bag, ranging from the magnificently insinuating "You" to the actively irritating, childlike "Violencii Or Violencum." In demonstrating the fine line between art and self-indulgence, The Intelligent Design Of Joan Of Arc makes a good summary of the band's story so far.