Guitar

Dealin with Signal and Noise

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Guitar's fifth full-length album finds Michael L├╝ckner exploring more sounds than before, though in a way this is a summation of where he's been over time more than anything else, if an attractive summation with some enjoyable help from singer Ayako Akashiba and the Seattle band Voyager One. Certainly there's an overt nod to earlier roots with the cover of the Jesus and Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey," but this deserves credit for the skill of the arrangement -- while Akashiba's vocals closely match Jim Reid's original pace and delivery, the more peppy and spacious arrangement tweaks and transforms the monolithic glaze of the original into something else entirely. Another intriguing homage comes with "Watch the White Bird," which proves to be a politer take on the extreme blend of chaotic feedback abuse and sweet keening vocals that Lovesliescrushing made their considerable name with in the mid-'90s. In comparison, "Sine Waves" is a bit more obvious in its blend of guitar wash and beats (though the counterpart to that song, the album-closing "Sign Waves," takes a much better tack in having a piano for a lead, suggesting Harold Budd with the Cocteau Twins rather than My Bloody Valentine redux once more). Perhaps in keeping with that as the closer, Dealin with Signal and Noise generally improves the more it continues, with two late highlights being "Here," the most distinct song-as-such on the album, feeling actually like a proper dance song via a label like Kompakt, and the pulsing arc of "Live at Hotel Palestine," where the solo guitar treatments produce a palpable sense of carefully sculpted flow.

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