SubArachnoid Space, Landing, Surface of Eceyon, Cul de Sac, The Animal Collective, Aarktica, 1 Mile North, Toshack Highway, Sianspheric, Robert Poss, and Vidna Obmana
Reviewed by Michael Chamy, Fri., Oct. 24, 2003
Somewhere south of Halloween lies SubArachnoid Space. On the new Also Rising (Strange Attractors Audio House), the S.F. nerve-rock scions weave a phantasmagoric cocoon of synapse-frying guitar behind deep, forward-looking bass grooves. Their finest album yet and one of the year's best... The great northern eagle is Landing. Going back to the "rural psychedelia" of Seasons after the freeform Fade in Fade Out EP, the new Passages Through (K) features the narcotic pop of Aaron and Adrienne Snow behind mad reverberation not unlike the great Flying Saucer Attack records... Surface of Eceyon, featuring members of Landing and Yume Bitsu, goes even farther on Dragyyn (Strange Attractors Audio House), which hums, floats, riffs, and sculpts a magical soundtrack to mythical creatures, primeval urges, and eerie nether-realms... Ever restless Cambridge, Mass., improvisers Cul de Sac explore interesting terrestrial regions on Death of the Sun (Strange Attractors Audio House). Old 78s and manipulated field recordings are masterfully woven into the percussive wizardry of Jon Proudman for a fascinating ethnography doubling as an ancient drum call... Ignore the rave reviews of their muddled Here Comes the Indian. The Animal Collective put it all together on their first two albums, Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished and Danse Manatee (Fat Cat), reissued as a 2-CD set stuck in the Bermuda Triangle between pure noise, avant composition, and Weeny fun-house pop... Aarktica's Pure Tone Audiometry (Silber) holds its own uneasy alliance. A handful of sparkling pop gems out-Kranky Low themselves, fading into patiently melodic drone-rock jams and extended passages of pure Tony Conrad effluvia... Labradford faithful should eye 1 Mile North's Minor Shadows (Ba Da Bing!), a rewardingly patient dynamic and melodic sculpture featuring elegant, Music for Films-style analogs... Adam Franklin, the genius behind Swervedriver, gets introspective on Magnetic Morning/Aspirin Age (Sonic Unyon), a two-disc split EP between Franklin's Toshack Highway and Canadian space rockers Sianspheric, who temper their wall of screech. Franklin's songs, including an inspired Swervedriver reworking, highlight his rich pipes, hazy fretwork, and grade-A songcraft... Former Band of Susans axeman Robert Poss re-emerges with the companion discs Distortion Is Truth and Crossing Casco Bay (Trace Elements). The former is an ADD-friendly hodgepodge of compelling fabrics, raw feedback, and driving noise rock; the latter a patience-testing minimalist wash... Belgian composer Vidna Obmana goes to hell with Spore (Release/ Relapse), the second chapter of his Dante trilogy. The sinfully rich brainscapes land south of heaven, though the exotic woodwinds and tribal electro-thuds reveal that Satan isn't so boring after all.