"Looking In The Shadows" CD (DGC)
The first time I head this, I hated it. Fey, simpering vocals, not much in the way of music. I listened to it again, just to make sure my first impression was right, and I still didn't like it. So I listened to it again. And again. And again. I've probably listened to this album 15 or 16 times during the course of the issue and I still don't think I understand what's going on here, but one thing is certain - this is a dense album, textured and layered. Think of Laurie Anderson doing a punk record with the Vaselines, and you may have an idea of the general aesthetic which is at work here. It's odd, about 45° out of alignment from more standard music, but as it veers away from the usual and expected, it throws what's wrong with music into sharp relief. This is experimental, innovative and fascinating; other bands settle for music which doesn't challenge or confront listeners' expectations of what a song should sound like, how it should be constructed. I still don't know how to approach this album. It's a cipher, a tabula rasa which appears barren of text, but gradually words from a dead language with an incomprehensible representational system appear on the gray slate. I'll be puzzling over this one for a while, trying to figure out why I keep listening to it and why it holds my attention. One thing is certain - this is one of the most intriguing albums I've heard this year and I won't regret any time I spend thinking about it.