Red House Painters, "Old Ramon"

How long after an album is completed does it take to be released? A few weeks? A few months? Red House Painters' sixth full-length album came out earlier this week - three years to the month of its completion, tied up in major label buyout limbo and searching for a worthy new home. Thanks to the folks at Sub Pop for realizing this record, a warm welcome after years since Songs for a Blue Guitar.

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4848 Hits

arab strap, "the red thread"

Exactly 57 minutes. Ten songs. Slightly sinister. Very sensual. Damn depressing. Though the title refers to the Eastern supposition that each of us is connected to our one, true love by an invisible cord, 'The Red Thread' unravels a fascinating and devastating mess of frayed relationships and tattered egos. It's like watching a violent movie spectacle: you can't help getting sucked in, as much as you believe in real life you'd turn the other way. Aiden Moffat's lyrics, often muttered or tossed off in a thick Scottish accent, grow gradually decipherable with each listen.

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4435 Hits

KANDIS, "1996-99"

Kandis is the first of at least three monikers to date for electronic artist Jens Massel, his releases as Kandis, Senking and Fumble making up the bulk of Karaoke Kalk's 5 year deep back catalog. This digipacked disc collects 14 tracks from the four 12"s spanning 1996-1999, which seems to be the year Massel retired the project. Honestly, it doesn't much matter which name he uses as the differences among and quality of the music of each is negligible.

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4487 Hits


"Did You See" is the third various artists compilation from Surrey, UKbased label deFocus. As the title implies, this disc collects tracksyou might have missed from already released deFocus albums and singles,as well as a few tracks from the two v/a 12"s "Do You See" and "Two YouSee". Six artists - Lackluster, Aphelion, CiM, +one, John Tejada andEsem - produce a dozen tracks interspersed with cute half minute'intervals' by CiM. Their work is very reminiscent of the more sublimemoments in Warp's 'Artificial Intelligence' electronic mood musicseries of the early '90s. Lots of space-y pads, warm melodies andmellow beats. In fact, the aural aesthetic of these artists is sosimilar it almost sounds as if all the tracks could have come from asingle one of them and a single rack of gear. But that's more of anobservation than a complaint really. Aphelion's "Click" rolls with adriving, funky drummer rhythm. CiM bring in some scratching and mildfunk hop grooves. Lackluster's "Ix Pen" is the most, well, lacklusterof the lot while the 'brothomstates remix' of "Suntrap" steps up andout with rapidly sequenced synth notes and beats. And Jon Tejada's"Disappear" adds a bit of jazz and house flavor. All in all a niceselection. I still dig this sound nearly a decade after I firstdiscovered it. It's good to hear someone continuing to explore it ...



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Ulver continue to expand beyond and free themselves of their metalroots with this, their 5th full length album, the subtitle referencingan imaginary film that this music provides the soundtrack for. The pastfew releases ("Themes from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven andHell" and the "Metamorphosis" EP, all on Oslo's Jester Records) havealready proven their music to be wide-ranging, elegantly produced andcinematic and epic in scope, but "Perdition City" concentrates evenfurther on subtle and dramatic intensity, atmosphere and decay. Strainsof John Zorn's "Naked City", Vangelis' "Blade Runner" and John Barrysoundtrack are present as emotive piano, strings, saxophones,electronics and the sounds of the city permeate much of the seamlesslyflowing 53 minutes. The first few tracks open the album with fluidjuxtapositions of all the elements, including big live drums andpassionate vocals (in English, a presence on about half the album)."Hallway of Always" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" couple distorted synthswirls with heavy, somewhat hip hop rhythms. "The Future Sound ofMusic" drastically switches from quiet piano motif to a full on bassand drums assault. "Dead City Centres" is the most outright jazzy witha smoky swing and climactic narrative. And "Nowhere/Catastrophe" closesthe album as the most structured 'song' with a crushing vocodedbass/synth chorus being the focal point. Superb. Ulver's music isgenuine regardless of what genre they're dipping into or what directionthey choose to tread. Also included on the disc is a near 4 minute mpgvideo clip for "Limbo Central (Theme from Perdition City)" (from thepreceding EP) full of Revelations quotes and treated car ride visuals.Ulver will begin recording their new EP "Silence Teaches You to Sing"soon ...



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Organum, "Ikon"

David Jackman, the man behind Organum, has for the past several years made a nice name for himself by ripping off the people who might want to hear his music. Whether by charging $20 for new 7" singles, publishing obscenely limited releases, or releasing CDs at full price with no packaging (there were two or three CDs that arrived in shops for $12 + in intentionally empty jewelboxes), Jackman's gall has become the focus of conversations much more often than his music. This CD, the latest in a series of informationless reissues of older recordings, is a full-priced CD that contains 15 minutes of noodly New Age.

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5065 Hits


"Musipal" is Luke Vibert's fourth album as Wagon Christ and debut forNinja Tune. I've always been a moderate fan of Vibert, I don't listento his music all that much but I buy everything he puts out, listen toit for a week or so, file it away and pull it back out on occasion.This album is much the same as past ones with lots of goofy easylistening mid tempo dance for the party. Super crisp and clean beatsset the electro-hiphop-soul-jazz-funk foundation for numerous sampleanecdotes and melodies. "The Premise" sets the agenda with plentifulspoken samples - 'the premise of this album is, well, the danceactually, dance business, the highest definition ever achieved inrecording'. "Bend Over" features the sped up tale of a young Brit who'scertain he will have to 'bend for it' to get what he wants. "ThickStew" is quite serious at first, that is, until the animal sounds comein. The spoken mantra that gives "It Is Always Now, All of It Is Now"its title is damn near satanic in its distorted repetition. "Boney L"has an extra thick bass line for its mere 2 minutes. "Tomorrow Acid"intensifies the bleep factor while "Perkission" ends the album on amore up-tempo bossa nova tinged rhythm and even more jungle sounds.Yep, "Musipal" is pretty cool. Vibert will be DJing all over the worldthroughout June ...samples: * Boney L * It is Always Now, All of it is Now * The Premise
4695 Hits

mice parade, "mokoondi"

After two full-length albums, one of collaborations and loads ofremixes and other appearances, Mice Parade is no longer a 'sideproject' of Dylan Group member and Bubble Core founder, Adam Pierce.The man is musically a one-man powerhouse, multi-talentedmulti-instrumentalist, collecting influences like a world travellerpicking up intereting souvenirs wherever he finds them. On the businessside of things, his work with Bubble Core shows a seemingly undyinglove for music and desire to share and exchange others' music from allover the world. [note: Americans can thank him for making Sigur Ros andother Fat Cat releases available in this country along with a selectfew of other odd labels and artists.] Be jealous, be very jealous ofhis incredible amounts of talent, but respect his hard work and skill.Mice Parade's third full-length disc once again is another maximalisticgroove-ride: a joyful adventure down a bouncy instrumentalpost-tortoise-rock path with jazz, beatbox, South American and Asianinfluences bleeding into the mix. The disc opens up with two 'jams' ofAdam essentially playing with himself. On these songs (spread over sixtracks) Adam displays flawless mastery of drums, vibes, guitars, synthand cheng (chinese harp). His relentless skills are perfectlycomplimented by his talent of making great songs: to clearlydistinguish his music from a music performance college final project -to make it enjoyable. While the rest of the following tracks featurevarious ensembles, Pierce remains the centerpiece. The musicsurprisingly maintains a linear and sensical flow, evolving with guestplayers on strings, sax, drums and voices, keeping up the sameemotioanly charged groove and feel established from the start. Everysong on here is a new adventure in modern music. At the end I'mstunned, appreciative and wondering where he finds all the time towrite, practice and play.



4430 Hits

movietone, "the blossom filled streets"

Former member of Flying Saucer Attack Rachel Brook has turned to alighter touch with her current project. Far from the murky feedbackdrenched, distortion driven soundscapes of FSA, Movietone barely peepswith the sounds of subdued Latin jazz, post-rock minimalism, and thewispy coo of Kate Wright. While the result succeeds in inclining theear, the album never really arrives. With a scant range of sparse andslow to deliberate and detached songs-and hardly an emotionalregister-the songs build an impassive tension that never releases. Thesustained mildness, the still and dreamy stroll of Movietone can besuprisingly...oppressive. When "The Blossom Filled Streets" finallyhits a gallop, it's as if the band has stopped holding its breath. Whathas been missing becomes startlingly present: change, direction,attitude. Though many critics have described Movietone as morose andeven "emotionally draining," it seems The Blossom Filled Streets hasmore to do with paralysis than emanation. If there's anythingdepressing about this album, it's the lack of expressiveness ratherthan the expression of lack. The core of most songs is a heavystillness pushed about by varied instrumentation (including clarinet,acoustic and electric guitar, piano, bass, drums, viola, and guicello).Often, the delicate colors added by each instrument seem to gesturetowards the many spaces and silences on the album rather thancommunicate in themselves. Some might enjoy this band's impressionism.Me, I'm not too impressed.



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Improvising cellist Daniel Weaver is best known as a former member ofthat rum bunch of plunderphonic organ transplanters Stock, Hausen andWalkman. 'Pulse' is a dance work for six women, performed by Echo EchoDance Theatre Company of Derry, Northern Ireland. The music Danielcomposed for it displays a more serious side, and unlike the frequentjump cuts of Stock, Hausen and Walkman is comprised of mostly fairlylong pieces which shift and evolve relatively slowly, running into eachother at walking pace for the seventy minute duration.
His brief from the choreographer was simply to allow him to mark awalking beat throughout the piece so he had a pretty free hand toindulge his eclecticism and create a unique piece of art which, evendown to the bubble pack cover, bursts out of any generic bags.
The short 'Hangover' blasts off with Seamus Cater's happy harmonicaplaying drowned in traffic noise recorded during a walk. An easylistening jazzy piano loop looms up halfway through 'Polygamy' only toseep into elephantine wind howls and hoots. Cater's harmonica strollsback over the hill of string strangled tussles.
'Bendover' centres on a beautifully simple acoustic guitar riffreminiscent of the second instrumental from Colin Newman's'Provisionally Entitled The Singing Fish' album, but Danielcounterpoints it with lazy tropical sundown melodies that soundHispanic to my ears. However this piece actually evolved from a Malian/ Senegalese model. There's a definite late summer atmosphereshimmering between the speakers.
Beats appear and disappear. The penultimate 'Pullover' begins with ajovial beat construction that initially wouldn't have sounded out ofplace on Stock, Hausen & Walkman's 'Oh My Bag!' but obliquely letsan eastern snake charmer out of the sample basket, before diving intochoppier waters.
'Pulse' ambles off over the horizon with an extended ascending 'SulphurBath' coda, underpinned by some gut rumbling cello groans and wails - achimingly steamy end to an charmingly dreamy stride.
Pulse is available from Pelicanneck in Manchester, who are distributing it. It is also available directly from Daniel Weaver This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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 It's a little odd that UK based 'experimental sound based project'label Source Research Recordings felt it necessary to produce a labelsampler at this time considering that they've only released 3 CDs todate: Leif Elggren/souRce research/Matmos "RGB", v/a "Emre [darkmatter]" and Andrew Poppy "Time At Rest Devouring Its Secret" (all ofwhich are recommended - see past issues of The Brain for reviews andmp3s of the former two). But for the uninitiated, this is a perfectplace to begin. Limited to a 1000 copies in a purple vinyl slipcase,"sR:ample" collects excerpts from those discs - including Coil, LeifElggren, Cyclobe - and about 18 minutes worth of previouslyunreleased/forthcoming tracks by Source Research, CoH, Cattivo,AphasRia and Ovum. This music is best absorbed through very attentivedeep listening as much of it is quite mysterious and minimal, thoughnever static or dull. I will concentrate on the new material. SourceResearch's 6 tracks drastically range from quiet contemplation, "DarkStart" being especially so, to violent sonic chaos. CoH's "menuet max."(possibly an homage to Erik Satie) rumbles and dances through computerforged squiggles not unlike those on his own full lengths. Cattivo cutand paste gentle female vocal bits with static on 3 eerie tracks,"neither-neither" being the most accomplished with additional malesobbing and a ghostly guitar (?) melody. AphasRia's "Fckd:mx"gracefully blends a beautiful ambient drift with stereo panned electricdischarge. And Ovum's "Lavin" is barely present with 6 and 1/2 minutesof murky drone. Altogether the new and old material mesh well toshowcase the recent past and recent future of the label's veryrespectable output. Future releases are planned for SteinbrùÙchel,Cattivo, CoH and Andrew Poppy ...



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loren mazzaCane connors, "the little match girl"

Loren MazzaCane Connors has made a career of serene guitarwork:ambient, atmospheric, sparse, spacious, or whichever word you feelwould classify it best. The latest disc pulls together fourteen newguitar melodies for a collection just shy of 40 minutes. While there isa time and place for Connors' music: like having tea and reading a bookbefore going to bed, I personally am feeling rather unsatisfied, almostas if there needs to be something more this time around. I've heardthis entire formula before from Connors on previous releases. On top ofthat, I can't shake the thought that I feel I'm listening to a MarkKnopfler soundtrack the whole while. Connors knows all about making arich and beautiful sound out of one source, treated guitar, but it'sgrowing tired and the guy needs to start working with some people againto get some fresh ideas and external sounds going. Having one CD likethis in your collection is encouraged, having 20 is excessive.



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ilpo vÄisÄnen, "asuma"

Also to be filed under the "just not enough" category this week is thelatest solo release from Pan Sonic member Ilpo Vaisanen. The disc alsoclocks in under 40 minutes with eight tracks which seem almostheartless/soul-less when listened to alongside Pan Sonic releases.While it started out rather promising, on the whole the disc feelsbland, thin, repetitive, thoughtless and unfinished. The disc is shortand rather sketchwork-esque in nature. The "songs" utilize the sametypes of electronic sounds and styles that can be heard commonly on PanSonic releases, yet comparitively speaking, the songs here are lackingin depth. While I'd like to be able to separate the different entities,it's hard to listen and not compare the them as the sound sources arepretty much the same. The low-end drone/low-tech pulse combo of"Vallitseva" for example sounds achingly familiar, almost as if it waspracticed live but discarded for album releases. The stereoscopicallyphased-out "Jaett" also echoes grounds covered in previous releases.I'm left somewhat confused, wondering if this was something Ilpo hadpromised to Mego or whether it was something old and kicking around,perhaps rejected by previously issuing record labels like Mute orRaster-Noton.



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Slick Idiot is En Esch and Guenter Schulz, the other half of KMFDM thatdidn't become MDFMK, and this is the mail order debut from their ownItchy Records. Surprise! It sounds an awful lot like KMFDM and that'sfine with me. And goofy band name and album title aside, it sure isgood to hear these guys again. The basic formula is the same: Esch'sdistinctive deep growl, Schulz's metal riffage, dance beat and synthprogramming (less flashy and complex than KMFDM/MDFMK), some femaleco-/backing vocals and sing-along choruses. Lyrically Esch foregoes thesociopolitical rabble rousing of his former band in favor of moreemotional and interpersonal topics. "Lazy" is the most humorous withEsch and a female trading off old school rap styled boasts such as"yeah I'm En Esch and you can't fuck me - I got my shit on your recordand shiny CD". "Forgive Me" drops the guitar while the following tracks"Idiot" and "Get Down - Give In [Sex Song]" provide the heaviest andsexiest riffs of the disc, as well as the barely adequate rapping ofone Middleman on the former. Pretty good, though I know they're capableof more judging from Esch's superb '93 solo album "Cheesy" and Schulz'sremixes for KMFDM. Full length mp3s and video clips are available ...


4184 Hits

clicks & cuts volume 2

I cannot tell a lie, this collection is seriously borderingpointlessness. Pointless to a rabid music fan like myself and pointlessfor just about anybody other than a coffee shop or convenience storeowner. Yes, this is truly elevator music for Generation Y. Even AmandaPalmer commented that the packaging and the cleverly typeset tracklist(which separated artist from song title) "reeks of pretention." And itis quite pretentious. According to the booklet, all of these 39 artistsare part of a "new movement in music" (not a genre) where they're allworshipping glitches, expanding on the concept of a mistake. DoesPanacea, Kid 606, or Ryoji Ikeda consider themselves as makers ofglitch music, exploiting mistakes, eager to be lumped in with AlvaNoto, Vladislav Delay or Fennez? If I were any of these artists I wouldseriously question Mille-Plateaux's motives. Reading onwards in thebooklet, one would interpret this collection as a concept of mistakes.Disc one is truly a mistake with an abhorring mastering job which jumpsin volumes from track to track, clumsily unbalanced tracks haphazardlywhipped up on a computer. By track 10, the cleverly named Random_Inc.makes me almost cry to realize there's another couple hours of thisleft to go. Disc two luckily is a different take, but unfortunately thetake wears weak shortly. The artists here like Brinkmann or Kid 606 arebig disco fans who don't want to pay for or lug around a keyboard. It'slittered with thumpy bumpy artificial bass drum kicks, tacky cheap drummachies, and songs absent of concept, melody, or structure.Unfortunately these "artists" generally end the track two minutes afterit becomes completely unbearable. Disc three has the mostmusically-oriented pieces on here, with contributions from Matmos,Pansonic, CAT Politics, M2,Cyclo (Ryoji Ikeda with Carsten Nicolai) and Kit Clayton. Not only isthe collection on the third disc musically charged, it sounds likeserious, calculated tunes as opposed to accidental sounds over the lastcouple hours. I'm impressed with the opener from Twerk, as well as thewarm sounds of Fennesz, and the comical album closer from DAT Politics.Matmos of course are the A-team of electronica. As far as I can tellthese tracks are exclusive, which is good for fans as the disc doescome at a very reasonable price, easy to skip over the crap. Okay, somaybe I was harsh at first, but if this were reduced to the last CDonly in the set, I'd be behind it 100%.



4655 Hits

danielson famile, "tri-danielson iii (alpha)"

A family group that includes five actual siblings (actual surnameSmith) and three "adopted" members, Danielson Famile was originally thecollege senior thesis of oldest brother Daniel. Their bizarre mix offolk and gospel influences, cacophonous circus-clowns-gone-amok tootand squeal, and Christian message enchants and unnerves listeners ofall and no faiths. Think vocals like Frank Black at his most unhingedand music like the psycho-psychedelic lurch of Captain Beefheartapplied to merry-go-round tunes. Its heavy dosage of sweet and surrealsilliness may make it more of a novelty than a standard in my cdplayer, but the Secretly Canadian re-release of 'Tri-Danielson [Alpha]'includes songs that everyone -must- hear. In fact, I've played"Pottymouth" for just about everyone I know. The majority of the songis a spoken conversation between two girls, in which one of themrelates an unsuccessful first date. Apparently the bad boy is also abit of a klutz — while changing a flat tire, the car falls on hisfoot... which he later drops a bowling ball on. After each incident theunfortunate suitor speaks in a "strange language" (cursing representedby emphatic gibberish in the background of the track, of course).What's a girl to do when, at the end of the night, the loser tries tosteal a kiss? The screeching sing-song tell-off is: "WON'T KISS NOPOTTYMOUTH! AWAY WITH POTTYMOUTH! ZIP UP THAT POTTYMOUTH!" Otherhighlights include "Rubbernecker," a rollicking indictment of lecherousmen, and "Between the Lines of the Scout Signs," which reclaims themiddle finger from its social stigma. Yup: "Shake hands with thatmiddle finger! Put 'em up right now, you heard me! Put 'em up rightnow! I SAID PUT 'EM UP!" If you're not yet enthused, check out aDanielson Famile show, in which the band regularly sports homemadenurse uniforms that symbolize "the spiritual and emotional healingtaking place" and Daniel has performed from within a 9-foot-tall,homemade papier-mache tree.



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England's Pork Recordings is home to many a mellow, pleasant andpolished, jazz inflected electronic downbeat. Tetris are a trio fromRussia, also home of the inventor of the addictive game from which theytake their name, and there's nothing remotely Russian about theirmusic. It fits well within the Pork mind-set with shades of techno,funk, latino, disco, big band, swing, easy listening, porno soundtrackand kitsch. The programmed bass and beats are bright, clean and peppyand are dressed up throughout with horns, organ, female vocals andvocal samples, jazzy guitar licks and vibes and synth stuff. The 9tracks are between 4 and 8 minutes with the exception of the morespacious and slower paced "Recordsman" which lazily sprawls for over 11minutes. I don't feel compelled enough to go into any more trackspecifics, it's not really necessary, suffice it to say it's 'same-y'but with variation. This is happy-go-lucky dance music. "Tetris" isfine but too streamlined, predictable and a bit bland for my personaltastes. I need something more daring, deep and soulful. Or moreamusing. Perhaps the most amusing item is the instructions for making aWhite Russian drink on the jewel case spine ...



4637 Hits


Penumbra is Mark Warren, one half of UK ambient pioneers Zoviet France,and this album on Iris Light is the follow-up to last years solo debut"Anoraks" on Universal Egg. "Skandinavien" explores - for exactly 74minutes - similar dark ambient terrain with the aid of repetitive beatsand natural and not so natural field recordings from the region."Welcome to Skandinavien" quietly drifts for awhile then adds in flightinstructions from a flight to Copenhagen. "Deep Listening" churns withsteady layers of electronic drone wave, reversed audio bits, rattles,bells and a deep percussive thud, a lovely female voice loop beingintroduced by the 10th minute. "Another Rainy Day" features a constantcascading beat pattern and, of course, trickling water by the end."Input from Origin" builds upon a never ending beat with synth swirland mildly annoying sporadic notes. Ditto the never ending beat, onlymore frantic and heavy, on "A Week in the Black Box" as steam hissesand sine waves drone incessantly. "Living on the Borderlines" calmsthings down again ... static sea waves, bird calls, a simple hi-hatrhythm, native bellowing and the gentle hum of an engine (plus 6minutes or so of hidden track - field recording of people conversing,traffic and construction). Relaxing. "Penumbra" is pleasant and sits inthe upper middle of my quality scale for these type of albums ...




5829 Hits

current 93, "the great in the small"

You've all read the story by now. In a dream, David Tibet wasinstructed to release all his material together in one collectionbefore he died, echoing the old wives' tale that when you die your lifeflashes before you. Prior to its release, there was much speculationfrom fans on various email lists, would it be MP3 files? Could itmanifest as another greatest hits? No, the secret is finally out. 'TheGreat in the Small' is one long track of everything playing at the sametime, from 1984's 'Lashtal' single through 2000's 'Sleep Has His House'album. At the helm mixing the balances between everything was Stapletonand Tibet, who according to Tibet had a methodical mathematical systemof doing things. While they may have carefully and meticulously decidedwhere to begin and end tracks, equilizing the amount of sources playedat one single time, the gimmick of this release wears rather thin goinginto the 10th minute. To its credit, the mix is carefully constructedand is truly an adventure either in a properly setup room with loudspeakers or with headphones, listening and picking out popularfavorites as they fade in and out in a tapestry of noise. In total, itstretches over 61 minutes: which can be a true test in patience. Andwhat happens at the end of the journey? Sorry, I can't give that oneaway. Thankfully the release is mid-priced, as it probably won't getheavy rotation in most players.




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Something I've learned over the past few years is to get anything withSteven Wilson's name attached to it - Bass Communion, Porcupine Tree,IEM and now No-Man. No-Man is the UK based duo of Wilson (instruments)and Tim Bowness (vocals, also of Samuel Smiles, Henry Fool) and this istheir 4th album in a decade. Here they are aided by 8 other playersincluding Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree on bass and Steve Jansen (DavidSylvian) on drums and percussion on several tracks. The focal point isBowness' warm voice and poetic words, soft and heavy with aquintessential singer songwriter melancholy and yearning. This isadorned with piano, synth, saxophone, trumpet, flugelhorn, acoustic andelectric guitars and percussion, which is more of an accessory than adriving force. The result is a lush organic balladry with an ambientsheen, crossbred between acoustic and electronic sounds, and blessedwith perfect production. The songs are essentially pop but draw uponlight jazz, classical, psuedo-tribal and experimental influences. I'mespecially enamored with "Carolina Skeletons" (also title track of a1998 EP). It's utterly emotive with forlorn piano, crumpled sound loop,Floydian guitar and Bowness relaying the sad story of 'Cowboy Kate'(Kate Carpenter perhaps?) ... "it's carolina skeletons that make herstranger when she eats". "All That You Are" is another crowning jewel,ending the album on a note of romantic resolution ... "let me take yourhand and love all that you are". "Returning Jesus" is gorgeous,addictive and timeless. It's like a shared bed you never want to getout of ...




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