Joseph Raglani uses sine/square wave generator, synth, guitar, voice, melodica, flute and electronics on five intriguing and accessible pieces. The engaging tension, emotional depth and narrative sensibility in Of Sirens Born feels similar to watching a film about explorers entering a strange landscape.



Raglani invests this largely instrumental album with enough sweetness to attract people who might usually avoid musical discord. However, the crunch and bite is here and cleverly positioned to satisfy those who welcome dissonance as a kind of exhilarating bliss. As mentioned, the cinematic quality is obvious, and opener "Rivers In" is strongly suggestive of motion or travel. The throbbing synth in the second half of the track is reminiscent of visual blurriness and of images moving in and out of focus. Then, at just over ten minutes "In The Promise of Wood and Water" is the longest track here. Like the entire record it has a slow pace but the contrast, peaks, and development seem like a journey within a journey.

On "Perilous Straits" the atmosphere might be a depiction of a craft floating dangerously close to rocks. The portentous alarming quality of the music is achieved by some thumping percussion and layers of a wailing siren-like racket. The added snap on this track is probably derived from Raglani switching to square wave generator. To give some idea of the sound difference, as I understand it, the visual display on the generator would show square blocks, rather than the flowing 'S' shape of the sine wave. The start of "Washed Ashore" is similarly violent but it is worth sticking with until the melodica comes to the fore and the music subsides into gentle lapping calm. The album's finale is "Jubilee," which flickers between ethereal hiss, bracing distortion, and euphoric multi-layering. The sense of danger, spirituality, excitement and celebration in the track brings to mind scenes unfolding in jungle clearings glimpsed from a boat adrift on a river: joyful nuptials, cannibalism, ritual sacrifice, animals grazing, fire, or a feast. There's also an unintentionally amusing overlap with The Prime Time Sublime Orchestra's A Life in A Day of A Microorganism, specifically the bits where daydreaming "dad" floats off to "an unknown tropical island somewhere deep in the Pacific, shipwrecked without contact to the outside world, he's the only man floating on a white fluffy cloud surrounded by young and nubile half-naked female natives who pamper him and tend to his most animalistic needs...".

Joseph Raglani has been active in St Louis for several years releasing CDRs and vinyl. He gets the balance right on Of Sirens Born, shows a lot of promise, and lives up to the accompanying praise from Keith Fullerton Whitman. This release is more exciting than ambient, indeed at times he almost conjures a ghostly sonic apparition of the more thrilling sections of The Faust Tapes. Raglani has more strings to his bow, too, for example there’s a delightfully spaced-out version of Big Star's "I'm In Love with a Girl" on his MySpace page.