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

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

CD review - Stars in Coma, And The Cloud Withdrew From The Sky (2010)

This new release from Stars in Coma is mostly a collection of material from 2008. The Swedish group is primarily a vehicle for André Brorsson's artistic vision, although there is a full touring band. Kingem Records has put together a nice little CDR package for this album.

Even as a collection of bits and pieces, And The Cloud Withdrew From The Sky has a coherency that seems to capture Brorsson's aesthetic during this period. Like an ellipse, it has two focal points. One is the electronic/dance/disco vibe, which often adds an old school sensibility. The first couple of songs, In Your Prison and Arcane Abstractions, hone in on this disco pop feel. The other musical focus is a kind of emotionally cathartic expressiveness. For example, on Golden Sight, Golden View, around the 3:00 mark, the song takes on a sort of progressive jam like My Morning Jacket or the Flaming Lips. One of my favorite songs, Am I Hermetical?, sets a dreamy, electronic mood. The vocals float easily over a bed of shimmery arpeggios. The melody gives it a slightly retro indie pop vibe, but the electronic layering adds a slightly psychedelic feel.

These two directions don't tear And the Cloud... apart, though. Instead, the boundary of this elliptical album holds them together under a veneer of indie pop.

I've already mentioned Am I Hermetical? as a great track. NYE, released as a single, is another strong song. It's firmly tied to that second focal point, with rich layers of guitar, keys, and a steady processional drum part. This might show my bias towards more of the expressive side of the album. Even so, the electronic elements are a necessary part of the sound.

A snapshot in history. A "self-archeology". A melding of styles to create an interesting album. Give Stars in Coma a listen, maybe with a glass of vodka and lime in hand.

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