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Wednesday, Apr 23 1997
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Built to Spill
Two-and-a-half years ago, Built to Spill's Doug Martsch, touring behind his pop masterpiece There's Nothing Wrong With Love, fretted about two things: being unfairly pegged as an alternative band and making enough money to provide for his child. Both worries were remedied with Perfect From Now On, Built to Spill's nearly perfect major label debut.

Essentially, Martsch took Warner Bros.' baby funds and created a superb CD of six-minute (hence, radio untouchable) wanderings. It's a confusing tack for Love fans. Buying Perfect without knowing anything about it is like feeding the jukebox a quarter for a Beatles song and ending up with Traffic.

But Martsch is not a stupid man. The twee-pop-to-orchestral-pop gambit effectively erases all of those alternative pigeonholes. By rotating band members for this record, Martsch got to play dictator and conductor at once. Backed now by players from two earlier Built to Spill incarnations and by former Spinane Scott Plouf's expressive drumming, Perfect arches with tunes that use layered production and sectional arrangements to deliver originality -- the anti-thesis of alternative rock.

Martsch isn't a big fan of touring. (He broke from the proto-grunge Treepeople because the band wanted to spend too much time on the road.) And he's too humble to stretch the charisma onstage. But Martsch is probably the best guitarist, if not the best composer, to graduate from indie rock, and a good night's performance is easy proof.

-- Jeff Stark

Built to Spill play Sunday, April 27, at 9 p.m. at Slim's, 333 11th St. 764-Hero and Modest Mouse open. Tickets are $7; call 522-0333.

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Jeff Stark

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