Recorded during Built to Spill's 1999 U.S. tour, Live captures this inventive Boise, Idaho, trio in full creative bloom, mixing Spartan rock structures with marathons of searching guitar solos and exploratory jams. Some songs are given a new tone: "The Plan" has a more desperate edge than it did on last year's Keep It Like a Secret, with Doug Martsch's guitar and his distinctive voice raging, tremulously, in the upper registers. Other tracks inflate like feedback-filled balloons: "Randy Described Eternity" is a dense dirge spotlighting the tension between Martsch's caustic noodling and the weighty chord shifts of touring partners Brett Netson and Jim Roth. "Broken Chairs" and a cover of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" stretch out to twenty (mostly instrumental) minutes apiece. There is no stage chatter on this album, because there's no room for it between the long grooves.
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