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

Thursday, March 1, 2012

CD review - Fourteen Twentysix, In Halflight, Our Soul Glows (2012)

Atmospheric post rock and electronic production comes through on repeated listening

Fourteen Twentysix grabbed my ears with their single Little Diamonds (review here). Without knowing much more than that, I was excited to finally hear In Halflight, Our Soul Glows.

It was hard, though, to come to the album with strong expectations. On first listen, the other tracks on In Halflight didn't overlap much with Little Diamonds. Sure, the open, ambient sound at the start of Echo seemed in tune, albeit darker. But as the song coalesced, it turned into a muddy mess. Oversaturated levels clipped to distortion, sounding more like an engineering error than a production choice. This special flavor of lo-fi surfaced on several of the tracks, souring my first impression.

As I looped through the album, though, I began to tap into its heart. Once I abandoned my preconceptions, I began to appreciate what Fourteen Twentysix had done. Their real focus was integrating moody, atmospheric post rock with electronic production, packaged in bite sized, pop length segments. The mix of digital and analog recalled Radiohead, especially on tracks like Every Line, which features Mick Moss (Antimatter) on vocals. The moody mix of open range rock and electronic ephemera was full of shiny details.

Also in this vein, Hollow offered a mix of pensive post rock and synth wave jams. Anchored by a steady throbbing bass, the track featured some great dynamics that balanced the trance music tension with thoughtful interludes.

Sleepwalker was another strong track. It had a dark, lazy Soundgarden feel. The solid bass playing provided grounding for the busy electronic beat. The loose, trippy arrangement slipped in some of the saturated clipping from earlier, but at a more manageable level.

I'm glad I gave In Halflight the chance to grow on me. I'm still not fond of the blown speaker production that Fourteen Twentysix favored on several songs (For a Second could have been such a better track), but I've found plenty of gems besides Little Diamonds.

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