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The first surprise comesbefore you've even played the second Silo album - Swim have launchedtheir first illuminated 'digipack'. I have well over half the CD'sColin Newman and Malka Spigel have released on their label since theyrealised back in the early 90's that they could do a better job ofgetting Malka's 'Rosh Ballata' album to the ears of those who wanted tolisten than anyone else, and this is the first 'digipack' I've seen. Imuch prefer them to brittle 'jewel cases' and the cover photo of rowsof glowing light bulbs resting on green grass is well served bycardboard.
The second surprise is the cover. Although it looks like a JonWozencroft design, the light bulbs were captured by the lens of MikkelTjellesen and layout is credited to Christine Cato. It looksquintessentially Swim though; at first glance I thought the lights weresunkenly illuminating a sea bed.
The image is so perfectly matched to these three Danes' slowlyunfurling beatscapes that one hardly needs the clue of the title - analloy being a mix of metals to create a new, more useful or resilientmetal. The musical adventures of Soren Dahlgaard, Frederik Ammitzbolland Mikel Bender are all mixed up into something which doesn't soundquite like anything else. The closest comparison I could field would beGerman avant-pop synth trio Kreidler, but Silo employ heavier beatswhich seem to slide almost imperceptibly across diagonally rather thanforward. Much has been said about the absence of 4/4 beats in this'Alloy'.
Once the CD was in the CD player, the first track wasn't such asurprise. 'Bulk' had already appeared as work in progress closing the'Swim Team 1' sampler and suggested that Silo might be pursuing theextended hypnotic elements of their debut 'In Star'. They've polishedup the 'Bulk' with some melodic additions, but maybe because the titleseems to suggest it, it seems to have the feel of a large ship cuttingslowly through calm waters. And the hypnotic elements are certainly onboard from fore to aft. There's an all-time great segue into the faster'Prime Movers'. A lot of thought appears to have gone into the tracksequence, so that the album flows in an addictive mesmeric stream ofoff-beats and techno informed slow rock. It's 'real head nod shit'according to Colin Newman. I couldn't guarantee any lasting laxativeeffect, but it may well move you!
The nine tracks often give the impression that they've been worked onconcurrently and elements from one seem to reappear as echoes inanother. Vocals are sparing and atmospheric and the only one wordsticks in my mind after repeated spins but is a lyric which seems oddlyapt and descriptive: 'Structure'.
The last couple of tracks break away from the rest of the albumsomewhat but still sound of a piece. 'Those adopted by people' is thefastest and probably most danceable track, sounding almost likeImmersion. 'Repose' closes 'Alloy' with a deep bass drone and revolvinghigher pitched (guitar?) sample, and proves that Silo don't need a beatto hypnotise. It'd be nice if its four minute lifespan was increasedthreefold.
Silo have surpassed themselves with an essentially unique beat-drivenmix that sounds at once organic and machine chrome tough. - Graeme Rowland