(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, April 12, 2010

CD review - White Rabbits, It's Frightening (2010)

With It's Frightening, White Rabbits have created music from the Heart of Darkness. The atavistic jungle beats, the constant tension, and an unsettling aura of noise are balanced by an indie Brit pop/post punk aesthetic. The closest comparison would be some of Wilco's darker work, but that doesn't really capture the feel. It's driving and primitive, but the languid vocals and subtle use of sound provide a cognitive dissonance. This is one of the most interesting albums I've heard lately.

A great example is Lionesse. The first minute or so is an interlude centered on a constant tone, with swelling noises and a piano playing a simple, stalking scale. A couple of small fragments of noise break the spell and the beat and bass add context to the piano scale. Now, it's more or a spy theme, with reverbed instruments and a steadily building anxiety. The few words are mostly a repeated phrase. When the song collapses at the end, it's almost a relief...and yet, I hit rewind at least twice to take the ride again.

Company I Keep emphasizes the Wilco vibe, with a Robyn Hitchcock vocal and lyrical approach. It's stripped down, with a misleading sparse feel. The misdirection is that all of these separate pieces drift together so easily to form a lazy beauty. Still, though, there's a steady syncopated beat underlying the song that prevents a full release of the album's pent up energy.

It's Frightening -- well, maybe so, but sometimes I love a good scare. A glass of smoky Schlenkerla Urbock will keep you company in the darkness.

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