Modality: Under the Shadow of This Red Rock 2LP (House of Watts, 2016)

October 22, 2016 at 9:48 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Modality: Under the Shadow of This Red Rock 2LP

Modality: Under the Shadow of This Red Rock 2LP

WCBN last heard from Modality a few years ago, when they released the elegant, eclectic Particle City. Since then, they’ve put out some limited tapes and played a bunch of gigs around the country. The members live in three different cities in Montana and Vermont, and they practice weekly via the internet. Judging by this sprawling double LP, their ESP is strong enough to connect through pretty much any distance. The first side is taken up by “Rarefied Airwaves”, which starts out as a vast drone featuring guitars and synths which effortlessly meld together. After a brief pause, a drum rhythm works up, and everything becomes fuller and more connected. It never really gets heavy, but there’s some electric violin streaks which appear like particularly sharp flashes of light. And then it all ends with an acoustic comedown. “Bullfrog Boyman” is somewhat twangy and rustic, with stream-of-consciousness spaced-out ranting over a hobbling, hypnotic rhythm and more ecstatic violin and guitar alchemy. “Curtis’ Music Hall” is more electronic and cosmic, with Berlin school synth arpeggios and a seriously beautiful violin melody. It immediately heads straight into a deep bliss area and doesn’t want to leave, until it finally disappears after 9 minutes. Side C (“I Will Show You Fear in a Handful of Dust”) starts out with a silly computer voice before launching into a locked drum groove and synth arpeggios which explore the heavier side of Krautrock. Vocals make scant appearances, but don’t take the lead. The rhythm falls out, and we’re left scrambling in space, and it feels fizzy, strange, and exciting. Then the pulsing synth comes back, and then the drums. It gets gradually more wasted. The final side (“The Savage Seas of Krül”) opens with loud guitar shredding, then goes through some very dense, multi-dimensional fields of sound, waving and washing and encompassing everything you see, hear, and feel. (Assuming you’re playing it as loud as humanly possible, which is by all means how you should be listening to this record.) It gets thick and sludgy, and there’s slowed-down voices echoing out from the void, and drums struggling to not get bogged down. And then it all converges into a truly wonderful final section, ending a magnificent album. Free download at Bandcamp.

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