Dante's Kitchen

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Twenty years and umpteen releases after their 1984 debut, Dante's Kitchen marks something of a retrenchment for the duo of Martin Bowes and Julia Walter. Coming nearly half-a-decade after their last proper studio album, the somewhat disappointing The Jeopardy Maze, Dante's Kitchen is a return to the dark-hued electronics, vaguely classical forms and Gothy intensity of their earliest releases. Largely jettisoning the more overt dance elements of their sound in favor of a sparser feel with elements of old-fashioned European soundtrack music, Dante's Kitchen hits the mark most precisely on the downright chilling "The Head of Gabriel," a combination of low-register harmonics and skirling, threatening strings that's both one of the duo's finest songs ever and the song on which Bowes' baritone voice, which has been growing increasingly sepulchral over the years, finally drops into pure Leonard Cohen territory. None of the rest of Dante's Kitchen reaches those heights, although the found-sound-and-ambience closing track "Still Life" manages to end the album on an appropriately unsettling note. Still, this is Attrition's most interesting release in far too long.

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