Some bands are like adventure tourists, constantly striking off toward new musical pastures as if determined to prove they've been everywhere and tried everything. But Sian Alice Group don't wear their eclecticism as a boastful badge of honor, preferring a much more subtle approach that enfolds myriad genres into their dreamy, experimental music. The closest analogy in feel, although not in sound, is Keith Tippett's early work with Julie Driscoll. There's the same intensity to Sian Alice's 59.59, a similar attention to detail and arrangement, and an equally breathtaking sense of musical adventure. However, Tippett focused exclusively on melding jazz and rock together, while Sian Alice's musical experimentations go far, far further. Avant-garde blues is explored on "Way Down to Heaven," rock and ambience unite on "Larsen B," rich harmonics swirl across "Contours," and C&W and folk seep through "Sleep," while clubby beats sinuously wind around "Motionless." Interspersed among these songs are short "Interludes," which either augment a longer track or clean the musical palette for the next course. Every piece spotlights a different facet of the group's sound, as well as multi-instrumentalists Rupert Clervaux and Ben Crook's many talents, each variously highlighting the keyboards, guitars, or rhythms. Overhead, Sian Ahern's gorgeous, ethereal vocals and Sasha Vine's violin beautifully enhance the atmospheres within. 59.59 is an astounding album, quite unlike anything one's ever heard before. There's a tension at its core and an incendiary aura that seeps across the set, no matter how dreamy the atmospheres or lullaby-like the song. But with Sian Alice Group's emphasis on moody melodies and sublime atmospheres, the set's textures and feel linger long after the final note is played.
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AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene