Meat Beat Manifesto, "In Dub"
Run (NA) /
There's something intensely satisfying about an artist who always delivers the expected with a high level of quality. It's like having a favorite meal and a favorite restaurant and knowing that every time you go, the experience will be slightly different, you will bring your own, different perspective each time, but there will always be something comfortable and familiar. By now, Meat Beat Manifesto are fine purveyors of musical comfort food. There are no brash surprises or about faces on In Dub, which is part dub/remix record based on RUOK and part experiment with bong hit delays and rubbery bass. The elements of a classic Meat Beat record are all here, from the meticulously constructed beats to the rolling basslines to the spacious ambience that creates a space so unique that even the moments without beats are signature Meat Beat moments. For crate-diggers, sample jockeys and other boys and girls with samplers trying to unearth the wittiest, weirdest bits of sound ever to be recontexturalized into booty-moving tunes, Jack Dangers has once again beat everyone to the punch. The extended sample of an engineer explaining a missle guidance system hands down eclipses my previous favorite samples that are all, appropriately enough, from other Meat Beat records. While In Dub takes a more particular look at the Meat Beat sound through the dub microscope, there's always been a hefty dose of expected rattling high hats and percussion ringing out into space so this doesn't sound significantly different than most other Meat Beat records. It has a more narrow scope than albums like Subliminal Sandwich and Actual Sounds and Voices, but it nails just about every track in a that has come to be expected. The real revelation with In Dub comes with the 5.1 surround sound mix found on the DVD. I've always been amazed at the deft placement of sounds in Meat Beat Manifesto mixes, and with the extra channels of sound, the whole affair becomes an opportunity for Dangers to show off. There is no one better at sculpting sound into an immersive, breathing, pulsing atmosphere while maintaing head nodding rhythms and a sense of humor than Jack Dangers, and In Dub demonstrates that. For those hoping that the DVD edition of In Dub will contain full-on videos for the album's tracks, I would stress that the visual accompaniment provided by Ben Stokes is more along the lines of highly stylized visualizations than music videos proper. Some tracks feature pulsing graphics not unlike a quirky WinAmp viz, while others have a slightly more developed video presentation, but all in all the visual side of the DVD is more of a special feature than a main attraction. The reason to get the DVD is the 5.1 mix, something that will become more and more common, but may not be done much better than it is here. In Dub won't likely change anyone's perception of what Meat Beat Manifesto is at this point, but it's a welcome new release from an old standard that continues to refine, innovate, and satisfy. - Matthew Jeanes
Helge Sten, member of Supersilent and manipulator of the sonic underworld, has released a four-CD set of music composed between 1991 and 2001 as Deathprod. Three of these discs are filled with material that has either been previously unavailable or available only in painfully limited quantities. The fourth disc, Morals and Dogma, is Sten's latest work and is available seperately if a four-CD package is a bit too pricey. But what a beautiful package this is: summoned, bound, and forged in the midsts of Norway, this release exhibits Deathprod's skills as a producer, an engineer, and a writer. The sounds vary over the four discs, but it may be necessary to take a break from the sometimes overwhelming atmosphere of the dark and lonely places that dominate this release. Deathprod, though long and diverse, is an excellent introduction to Helge Sten's work. Supersilent fans may want to investigate this release as its quieter moments reveal just how central Sten can be to the band. If spending some extra cash on a box set from an slightly obscure individual doesn't make much sense, pick up Morals and Dogma, first. That box will definitely look more appealing, then.
The intimidating and unnerving tones that open Reference Frequencies belie what follows them. The NASCAR-like buzz that rules over the first song inspires images of unholy insects parading over the landscape in some version of the end of the world. Their tirade empties rivers and leaves only dust and the beating of their wings topples buildings in sudden crashes played out repeatedly in slow motion. This terror lasts only moments when, suddenly, a quiet and inquiring voice (poet Matt Burt) recites a series of descriptive lines intercepted, here and there, by mnemonic recitations from philosophy, history, and personal experience. Burt's voice is the sole instrument of this track besides some very quiet background noise presumably constructed by Sten. This minimalism works suprisingly well; the timbre of Burt's voice is relaxing and his stories, to some degree, inspire some kind of voyeuristic tendency in my character. I feel as though I'm watching someone's nuances unfold quietly, slowly, and with some degree of incompetence. "Recording the Jürg Mager Trio: La Luna" and "Recording the Jürg Mager Trio: A Shortcut to the Stars" unleash Deathprod's more playful side and capitalize on the unpredictability of this disc. These two songs, released as a 7" for Christmas in 1995, are not only comedic and fun to some degree, but they're both moody and atmospheric enough to outline the scene of a hazy bar in a David Lynch film, populated by only the strangest of his characters. The chugging rhythm of the organ carries a groove through the latter that proves to be especially hypnotic and leaves me swaying to and fro with its perpetual motion. The diversity on this disc is its greatest strength. All of the "Reference Frequencies" tracks were recorded in 1991 and each of the other tracks span the spectrum from 1995 to 2001. "Dora 3" closes the CD out and provides an excellent relief from the destruction of "Reference Frequencies #7, #8," and "#5." Violinist Ole Henrik Moe strains his instrument's voice out over the churning and boiling of some unknown substance. While the sound isn't as immediately physical as the "Reference Frequencies" pieces, it isn't exactly an inviting composition, either. Sten has his mind set on something beyond the human eye. Whatever it is that lurks beyond his imagination reeks of sinister plots and sickening panoramas.
Sten's cinematic brush marks the whole of Treetop Drive and plays out as a more subtle and cohesive record than Reference Frequencies does. Originally released in 1994 in an edition of 500, the album was subsequently held back due to conflicts with the label. For being released in 1994, this record sounds amazingly fresh. Composed of three "Treetop Drive" compositions and the closing "Towboat," the whole of album is orchestral and unitary by nature. The first two tracks are composed of a series of string breaths, the first track letting them float about a whole sea of sounds; most of these knells are harmless and secondary, only highlighting the bellowing of the strings. The second composition combines strings with the roar and consumption of deep bass samples and static-filled echoes of feedback. The imaginary story that the first two tracks tell is of slow degeneration, of transformation and the sometimes invisible shift between dreams and nightmares. Again, Sten's knack for the hidden and terrible shines through and reveals him to be good friends with the denizens of the night. "Treetop Drive 3" and "Towboat" share more in common with eachother than the first two songs do, but both are linked to the first half of the album by color and spirit. Where a rhythmic and dominant string section had dominated the first two pieces, a stream of sound dominates the later two. There isn't a solo instrument or a particular sound that stands over and above anything on "Treetop Drive 3": only a vocal sample about the experience of death that young individuals might have interrupts the sometimes electronic, sometimes brass, and sometimes ineffable flow of sound. The feeling is indeed funeral throughout these nine gorgeous minutes; and therein the beauty of Sten's work becomes more evident. As horrific as Sten can be, his compositions bleed a certain familiarity that gives them the veneer of comfort. "Treetop Drive 3" feels like a lullaby at times and "Towboat" sews that deceptiveness into place. The final and longest piece begins with a melody of graceful beauty and slowly distorts into a dreary walk along a violent shore. Surely there is something in the ocean just waiting for a foolish traveller to take a bad step. Or, perhaps, there is a secret waiting out in that ocean and its contents are enough to drive any human insane. Whatever the case may be, the guitar-like moans and metallic churning that mark this song fit together perfectly and end Treetop Drive on a very high and memorable note.
Of the four discs, Imaginary Songs from Tristan da Cunha is perhaps the most unusual. Completely different from anything else in this set, these tracks were composed in 1996 and began as part of Sten's graduation work at the Trondheim Art Academy. Tristan da Cunha is the most remote island in the world (located somewhere in the South Atlantic) and Sten drew the inspiration for this music from that location. The first four tracks were recorded by Sten and violinist Ole Henrik Moe and then transfered to wax cynlinders. These wax cylinders were then recorded back to a digital format; the result is a recording that feels as though it could have come from the 1930s, when only some rich and influential people could've possibly reached the remote paradise of the island. But these aren't the smooth sounds of affluent America resounding through the speakers. There's an eerie glow coming off the island and this is what Sten has managed to record. Perhaps there are things best left alone on Tristan da Cunha or perhaps there are secret rituals performed there by long forgotten peoples. Whatever the case be, the first four songs do not depict a bright and exultant world, but instead emphasize the mystery of remote places and the unknown. "The Contraceptive Briefcase II" plays out like an opera over the abyss. Unearthly choirs of real voices, glass ringing, theremin, violin, and other assorted sounds resonate in any empty space and seem to tell the story of the return from the island. There is a scream haunting each of the passenger's minds, something projected out of the past and made manifest in the howling winds of the ocean and the creaking of the old wooden ship. The song ends with the sound of applause, as though the whole thing were a performance meant to carry out the plans that had begun with "Burntwood." This applause slowly deteriorates, however, into applause through the medium of the wax cylinders. Was the whole thing a play meant to tell the story of some fantastic island? Or is there a story here that is supposed to act as a real warning for would-be adventurers tempted by the fame and glory that comes with uncovering the unknown and naming the nameless?
Recorded between 1994 and 2000, Morals and Dogma is Sten's newest Deathprod release and proves itself to be his most emotional and enthralling work. Looking over the previous three records, it's obvious that Sten's greatest strength lies in his ability to fill space in just the right way. He is a master of keeping open spaces the way they should be, of making paranoid and claustrophobic moments as tight and discomforting as possible, and he never packs any moment too tightly with busy sounds. His arrangements are perfectly organized without sounding as though they are overstructured. Every song on this disc plays to the tune of that advantage. Morals and Dogma is a mostly quiet album, emphasizing the subtle powers Sten holds when in control of silence and sound. Subterranean hums shake the ground and cause the slightest trembling in the foundations of reality and the mists of Hans Magnus Ryan's violin obscure the hollowed stirrings of the outside world. "Dead People's Things" stands out as one of Sten's most impressive pieces. Though I can't be sure, what I believe could be a theremin snakes its way through the chimerical world of stone bridges, cold air, and barren trees. There are silhouettes moving over those bridges and through that air, dressed in top-hats, Victorian jackets, and high, black boots; their demeanor is not an approachable one. It's amazing to hear how only three or four simple elements can make for compelling listening over eighteen and a half minutes of music. If the boxset is simply too expensive, purchase this disc just to hear "Dead People's Things." The bleak tangibility that consumes this record is gut-wrenchingly austere, but undeniably gorgeous. It's as though Sten has made himself a cipher for the number 0 and returned to reveal that it has content. "Orgone Donor" and "Cloudchamber" both follow in a similar fashion and both melt away slowly, filling the air with the same smoke that will come to conceal the song's origins. I come away from both feeling as though Sten has managed to bring back field recordings from a completely different world, where death and silence are revered ideas or forms and no longer suffocated under the density of the present. Sten's sound is unrestricted and unfettered, its heart an empty space where notions emerge for no other reason than that they must. Fittingly, even the heaviest of the songs here, "Cloudchamber," ends with a hush; a simple silk hum overcomes the brutality of the sun's deadly rays and sinks the world in a cool ocean where all that's left to do is contemplate everything on the inside. - Lucas Schleicher
Liars, "We Fenced Other Gardens With The Bones of Their Own"
This is the first single off Liars supposedly unlistenable, actually compelling and certainly image shattering second album They Were Wrong, So We Drowned. On that album, the song is a dread filled centerpiece, pinning the themes down and providing a solid basis around which the more divergent pieces can revolve. As a single, the song does not have the benefit of being the pressure valve on the tension and strength built up by the other tracks. This, however, can be a good thing. Out of the context of the album, "Fenced" stands on its own and reveals the subtleties that somehow make it even more creepy. The sounds that simmer in the background and sound like the sharp conversations of a coven just drifting through the trees are interlaced with the high falsetto chanting or pleading, a mesmerized voice. The fright is so subdued at this point that the sudden stabs of "We're Doomed!" come as a shock, and bringing the affecting nature of the song to a new place. Their cover of the Germs' "Sex Boy" breathlessly pounds itself to death, with a remarkable disregard for dramatic tension and audio fidelity. As a live track, the latter is excusable, and not really a major issue. What is really missing is the endearing and compelling side of Liars' bratty art-damaged live performances. The track blazes bright, with a noisy assault that was probably quite captivating in the live setting, but might embarrass the hooting audience punctuating the song were they to hear the recording of the show. "The Fountain and Its Monologue" is the patient, brooding cousin of "Fenced," or perhaps the forethought that would lead to the creepy sentiments expressed in that song, the pregnant pause before a torrent of fright. It slithers along with a curious drone, never leaping out at you, making no distinct impressions but sinking further and further into the oblivion. With these songs are three corresponding videos. For "Fenced," the three Liars engage in bloody snow play interspersed with some gaudy fractal visualizations practically straight from your WinAmp window. "Sex Boy" tries and fails to repeat the pastiche brilliance of the "There's Always Room on the Broom" video, and the "Fountain" video is not unlike the song: momentarily interesting but ultimately unimpressive. For a single, it's quite generous in the perks, even if not so in the content. "We Fenced Other Gardens With The Bones of Their Own" is still an accomplishment in any format, capturing the essence of Liars spooky new sound.
- Michael Patrick Brady
Rolf Julius, "Early Works Vol.1"
If anything is certain in the work of Rolf Julius, it's the music's power to draw you in. This is not to say that the German sound artist's approach is guided by traditional associations of "intimacy" in music; his creations are too modest and open-ended for such classification. Julius' simple performance and installation pieces inflate and infuse the most basic relationships, between sound and its visual or spatial correspondents, with the markings of deep significance within the human epistemological process. His works succeed by forcing us to recognize our limits; they are self-awareness exercises, incredibly active experiences that give the illusion of supreme passivity. Over three decades the artist has nudged Cage's "small sound" aesthetic away from its delicate or ephemeral meanings towards a category of concentrated or elemental qualities, culminating with the definitive Small Music series. His early works present some of the more crude examples of this direction, less effective of course in their audio-only presentation, but well in tune with the spirit that would produce his more mature pieces. Julius' early sound components remain largely homogenous throughout these eight works, dominated by a shrill, thereminic tone generator, sparse piano, and the occasional flute or plunked drum. I get the feeling the artist invested much more time in the conceptualizing and constructing of his performance spaces than on the music itself, which progresses on a near-improvised tack with only one or two steady sounds in alternately tense and lazy oscillation. Imagined in their original environments, though, these pieces begin to come alive in fascinating ways. Julius' own notes, included here, provide innocent and perfect introductions: "A number of loudspeakers play the music for the frozen lake/I hope that the lake itself turns into music." (from "Concert for a Frozen Lake"). Pieces like "Music for the Earth" and "Music for the Eyes" involve similarly straightforward but evocative constructions: "an old gravel path through which plants were sprouting once more" is dotted with ten speakers, and "two small loudspeakers with the music like spectacles on our open or closed eyes." It's easy to miss the profundity in the artist's words, but the naïveté that claims images like a lake turning to music or the idea of music itself becoming a looking-glass into the world, communicates also the great potential for revelation in such simple works. Julius' titles ("Music for..", "Concert for..") reveal, in a humble and indirect way, the level of engagement demanded by each work. Given the artist's method for arranging his small sounds with an attempt to hide or fuse them with(in) a particular space, his titles could easily read "Music of.."; however, the "for" guarantees recognition of the music's imposition, its artifice. Rather than dismantling the magic of the installation, such a realization becomes essential to Julius' message: that sound has the power to absolutely transform space, to reproduce it anew, as much inside the head as outside. As we search the rocky ground, the lake's edge, or the corners of a Berlin square, straining to uncover each miniature source, we are as much drawn in and made aware of the environment as it is drawn out into us, filled in with every imagined possibility, itself invested with the drama of hearing, truly "music for the eyes."
- Andrew Culler
Mclusky, "The Difference Between You and Me Is That I'm Not On Fire"
The energy of MClusky cannot be denied on their second full-length as they blister their way trough another group of songs that will astound and confound even the staunchest fan. It's been a while since "Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues" and the dancing Flash kittens, and Mclusky want the world to know that even though founding member Mat Harding parted ways with the band, the essence is still here and the purpose is still to destroy. There's a conscious effort, it seems, to make the songs a bit longer on this release, where previous releases were chock-full of two minute masterpieces; and the material has certainly veered more to the Dark Side of the Force for the moment. Neither makes a negative impact on the music, however, and Steve Albini again manages to stay out of the way of this band and just capture their live essence without need for much studio trickery. That is still the best way to experience Mclusky, it seems, as their shows tend to be plain incendiary in nature, and with an arsenal like this, there's no telling how many would survive the barrage. The cackles and rooster calls on the opening track meld well with the distorted guitars and hard-hitting drums. Andy Falkous is just as cockney and clever, and even though he's claiming "everwhere I look is a darkness," he sounds like he hasn't had this much fun in years. He screams his lungs out, double-tracking everywhere and writing half-cliché and half brilliance in his lyrics ("Note to invading aliens: avoid this town like this town avoided us" is a personal favorite). Mclusky have a great gift for melody, where even the trashiest or thrashiest songs are catchy as all hell, and I couldn't help nodding my head as accompaniment. Overall, they're just as sloppy, just as unpolished, and just as purely comical as always. Quite frankly, I'm glad they wouldn't have it any other way, as Mclusky are a breath of fresh air. - Rob Devlin
Shadow Huntaz, "Vampire EP"
The one phrase Cliff's Notes line on Shadow Huntaz is simply: "Skam does hip-hop." While that's true on the surface, it might be a bit misleading as the Shadow Huntaz' full-length on Skam is considerably more straight-forward than I would have expected. Funckarma provide the production that is all funky electro hip-hop, heavy on the synths and synthetic drums with a little bit of the signature Skam skitter, but not as much tweaked beat-splicing as the idea of the project might lead-on. The Vampire EP is more of the same, solid work from Shadow Huntaz, who combine clever rhymes and interesting if not mindblowing beats in a way that is their own. The title track, "Vampire" is a funky start/stop groove with staccato rhymes bumping over acidy basslines. The analogy of rappers as vampires is only hinted at here, but it works. The remix of "Night," from the Corrupt Data full length is an odd reworking that takes some of the bombast out of the original, replacing it with echoes and a spooky, hollow ambience and tb303 bass that make it a completely different track with old vocals. "Fasho" is the only misfire here--a track that sounds like a b-side and sits uncomfortablly with its uptempo, nearly drum n' bass tempo admist tracks of slow hip-hop nodding. "Don't got" rounds out the ep with a laundry list of the things that the Shadow Huntaz "don't got" and it broadens the pallette a bit with chopped up samples of jazzy piano poking out in between beats. While Corrupt Data includes more and often better tracks than this EP, Vampire adds to the breadth of the Shadow Huntaz formula that was starting to sound like a one-trick game by the end of the full length. This is literate but not overly-intellectualized hip-hop that grooves and surprises along the way. - Matthew Jeanes
The Catheters, "Howling...It Grows and Grows!!!"
A garage band with all the usual obvious influences, Catheters manage to develop a sound more concerned with crafting interesting, imperative songs than aping the components of their idols. They've melted it all down and assembled it in their own way. For every heavy riff and screeching vocal there is a bright melody, slicing its way through the murk and giving the songs a deeper character and personality. "No Natural Law" sets it off at high speed, and rarely does the band slow down over the course of the album. "Reaction" swaggers along with a tambourine shake and the vocal acrobatics of singer Brian Standeford. While he is rarely not bellowing or barking out the lyrics, he uses the full value of his vocal cords by imbuing every word or phrase with a distinct feeling and cadence. This contribution is yet another layer of ingenuity, raising HowlingÉ It Grows and Grows!!! a cut above the rest. Every opportunity to fall back into typical, everyday rock maneuvers is subverted by an attention to detail and craft that brays out of the speakers with full force. "Brave Drum" is an archetypal rock song, not because it sounds typical but because more songs should sound like it. It is a great blueprint, every instrument knowing its role and at peak performance. The arrangement shakes and shimmies, at once bursting at the seams with reckless abandon but also deftly thought out with an ear for balance. While the album lacks any real shifts in dynamics or tone, it is loaded full of great, full on rock songs. The band clearly knows what works for them, and may feel a little reserved about taking a stab at something different. The intricacies of these songs, however, demonstrate that Catheters might just be capable of any number of progressions in their future, and may find themselves there soon enough if they keep up with the song craft heard on HowlingÉ
- Michael Patrick Brady
Hypo, "Random Veneziano"
Whether or not Hypo's new album of "music that talks about music" is something worth listening to depends entirely on your relationship to Hypo's very particular ideas about what makes music good and bad. By his own admission, the album is a reflection on what he loves and what he hates about music. It's about disposable pop music and overly-adored intellectual music, and it works as Hypo's extended middle finger response to supposed "indie" music selling a retreaded version of things we have already experienced to a new audience under false pretenses of novelty. All of that is fine as a treatise against the fashion of popular music, but the album is executed more like a rambling blog than a well-documented thesis. It's nearly impossibly to enjoy tracks like "Serpentinouze", even if they are supposed to be a pisstake at crappy electroclash and fashion-centric indie pop music. This kind of self-referential musical criticism of other music is a tricky thing to pull off. V/VM and Kid606 do it well on occasion, as do the mashup djs who turn pop songs on their heads. Unfortunately, Hypo fails to give us soemthing unique and interesting and new in the wake of all the whining. If pop music as it is represented here is so bad, and if the people forwarding an agenda of banal and superficial music are the evil villains of this story, then I'm still waiting for Hypo to produce the hero. Random Veneziano does a fair job of chopping up and spitting out pop music cliché by performing a digital snip and splice job on a lot of annoying sounds, but it all remains annoying in the end. Perhaps Hypo has actually accomplished his goal too well in that he has created such an appalling mirror image of cheesy music that it is itself equally disposable and skippable. - Matthew Jeanes
Pink Grease, "This is For Real"
The albums title serves as a perplexing contradiction, as there is very little that is truly real about Pink Grease, from certain synthetic elements of their concept to their synthesizers. No doubt it is tongue in cheek, as the amount of mugging and jiving the band does on the album indicates it has a strong sense of irony (though maybe not as strong with humor and discernment). "Remember Forever" opens the disc with singer Rory Lewarne doing his best to channel Lux Interior, flinging trashy rockabilly phrasing against somewhat more straightforward guitar riffing. By the point the song enters into its boy-girl call and response breakdown, the Pink Grease have made a good argument that they while their influences aren't exactly a secret, there might be something to this whole thing. "Fever" unfortunately trades in any number of rock/dance clichés, from the oscillating two note riff we've all heard a thousand times before to lyrical turns of phrase about being on a mission, how a girl drives him crazy, and how that is quite like having a fever. "The Pink G.R. EASE" puts the band in the league of bands like Big Country who perform a song named after the band, though with slightly more pleasant results. It's a modest dance anthem (Dancethem? Perhaps I have coined the next absurd musical phrase!) that serves its role quite well. "Party Live," while relentlessly catchy, also brings up the questionable intents of white people using the word "nigger" to give their songs some kind of edge. I am sure there are innumerable graduate theses to be referred to on this subject, but my own personal take is that it is the clearest indication of posing and posturing there ever could be. In this case it is unfortunate, not just for the ambiguous societal implications, but also because "Party Live" is a pretty fun song, marred by an attempt to sex it up-looking for a shortcut to evocative sleaze and seedy fun without wanting to work for it. In spite of these issues, Pink Grease manages to do their best when forgetting about their Cramps aspirations and quasi-ironic image and puts together some really great songs that are just this side of power-pop. "Wind Up Bird" sails along on a solid melody replete with vocal tradeoffs and jangly guitar lines that make it a strong contender for song of the year. "Peaches," the following track is in a similar vein, looking toward a more honest sound and feeling than any of the glam-trash affectations of yesteryear. While the band does score some good hits with their purported shtick and premise, these songs are the strongest on the whole disc, and demonstrate that Pink Grease is capable of something more than they let on. Pink Grease is undeniably catchy, and at their best will force ass shaking (nobody could listen to "Superfool" and not find themselves immersed in it), but at their worst they sound like a slightly less obvious Electric Six with lyrics like "I wanna fucking die for you / I wanna die fucking you." There is room for growth here, and hopefully in the future, Pink Grease will eschew the gimmick and explode with the potential that they surely have. - Michael Patrick Brady
The Black Heart Procession/Solbakken, "In the Fishtank 11"
In the latest installment in this series from Konkurrent, these two bands who have shared the stage at various shows since 1998 attempt to capture a common magic, and there are no outstanding blemishes as far as I can hear. Very often collaborations between bands have the potential to backfire in the worst way, where the bands have absolutely no way of working with each other to produce anything that is at all worthwhile listening. These two are a perfect fit, seemingly bringing out the best in each other, and challenging each other in areas the other is not used to working. In this setting, they feed off of each other, making huge strides and approaching a transcendental music that is neither group as well as both of them. Most of the tracks feature a fluid piano line and the very capable vocals of Pall, who even though may have been short on lyrical ideas, or so it seems, still carries himself with a staid confidence in his voice and words. Violins accent the proceedings here and there, instantly adding a spooky or sad quality to any song they touch, and the female vocals on the first track are a welcome addition, even though the voice is not to be heard anywhere else on the CD. "Dog Song" is a bit silly, and thankfully is the shortest track, but even it has its moments of complete endearment. The centerpiece and most amazing track, though, representative of what these two groups can accomplish together, is the nigh-eleven-minute "Things Go on With Mistakes." It's a steady rhythm guitar and the violin, then western-style guitar bends, then the voice of Pall enters with the drums, then the piano joins in, in a fluid progression and addition from one element to the next. That's pretty much it, not very much variation in the melody, but small nuances and a build-up then dissolution of energy make it absolutely captivating. It is the one track I will be putting on my iPod, and the one track I listened to again and again. Where the other songs certainly have aspects worth listening to, especially the closing song "Your Cave," "Mistakes" is reason alone to listen to this release. It utterly destroyed me. - Rob Devlin
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