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Fovea Hex | Huge: Neither Speak Nor Remain Silent Two
Huge is 20 minutes of haunting loveliness from the mysterious collective that is Fovea Hex. The second short release of the three-part Neither Speak Nor Remain Silent project, Huge contains all the instrumentation, drama, and swelling aural poetry of any ambient full-length. Vocalist Clodagh Simonds is more of an instrument than a singer, and her terse lyrical possessions drift in and out of the rich, primeval electronic droning like a siren’s call. One would be hard-pressed to categorize Fovea Hex’s music as anything more than small, lush gems of beauty. But as their label, Jenet Records, claims, “if you must bang on the table like that, you won’t hear a thing”.
Tram | A Kind of Closure
I first stumbled upon Paul Anderson’s resigned falsetto guesting on Piano Magic’s Writers Without Homes, and quickly became a fan of his three-album project with Nick Avery and Tram. Quieter than Low and perhaps more gallantly futile than even Nick Drake, Anderson lists all the ways that intimacy hurts, and the dark, dramatic piano, acoustic guitar, and whisk-rapped drums paint a somber picture to effectively merge with his resigned lyrical portraits. Catch reclusive Cocteau Simon Raymonde guesting on piano and pour yourself some whisky to help stave off the chill – Tram’s closure is just another open wound.
Calexico/Iron & Wine | In the Reins
Joey Burns’ West meets Sam Beam’s East to form the very definition of Americana Gothic. It’s really a wonder these two didn’t meet sooner, for their seven-song EP is a natural synthesis. Gentle, driving acoustic guitar with bends and slides conjures a country feel but with a much darker core. One would expect to run across these guys playing in a lonely tequila joint somewhere just east of Santa Fe – and their lyrical stories are fitting for a chat at the bar afterward.
Efterklang | Tripper
Denmark’s premiere electronic conglomerate create something very special on Tripper, a deep, pristine vista of drawn strings and crackling synth, layered with male and female voices throughout. The quiet times within build to crashing crescendos of simultaneous reverberant electro-harmonics and exaltant orchestration like something out of a science-fiction religious ceremony. The angelic chanting on the album’s second track, ‘Swarming’, might as well be the representative choir for the Church of Technology. These songs, however, are hymnals for a new generation.
Film School | Film School
The massive production of Film School’s second album, as well as its washed, shimmery guitars and pressing drumbeats, conjures a younger blend of The Cure and Interpol, but to some degree, these San Franciscans are more edgy than both of their contemporaries. Making optimistic pop songs with moody, self-loathing undertones is Film School’s specialty, which is in itself just a prelude to their breadth of sound and skill. Also touching on psychedelia, shoegazer, and punk, all within the course of one album, the band will keep you guessing, nodding your head, and shamelessly pushing the play button rapidly in succession.