From the Shadows

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Cyrus' full-length debut delivers more on the dubstep promise than Burial's own first effort did -- for one thing, it actually sounds active right from the start of the album instead of moodily crawling along to no purpose. That said, From the Shadows is a record as bound by the tropes of the style as numerous other releases are, and dubstep is no less beholden to its initial environment -- everything sounds like it could soundtrack a rain-slicked empty street near crumbling housing at around 3 A.M. while waiting desperately for a night bus. But the brutally minimalist take on what constitutes dub isn't lacking for power throughout, and for all that a number of songs previously appeared on 12" releases, the seamless flow of From the Shadows creates an experience that works well as an album rather than simply a collection of songs. The shift from the first impact of "Gutter" to the easier flow then brisker kick of "Mind Games" is a treat (the way the bass is dropped on the break is a tiny masterpiece of placement), while the "Calm Before the Storm" appears at the center of the album, with its queasy bell samples standing out, and works even better as an introduction to the throbbing bass pulse of "The Watcher." This said, sometimes the effect is more drawn out at points, turning into more background music than subtle threat -- "Dirt" would work better in isolation, rather than harking back to what's already been heard on the album -- but overall this is a fine album-length debut that promises more for the future.

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