One Mile North

Glass Wars

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

John Hills and Mark Bajuk weave a gossamer web of melodic guitars and synthesizers on One Mile North's debut album Glass Wars. Like a minimalist Godspeed You Black Emperor! (admittedly their easiest comparison), the duo create gorgeous, meditative textures using very simple arrangements with very little production effects. Using simple reverb, Hills' guitars tell evocative musical tales of sadness, desolation, and devastation, augmented by Bajuk's restrained synth work. The duo mines a musical vein that can't be called post-rock (too simple), can't be called rock (it doesn't), and can't be called indie (its not hip enough). What Glass Wars is, though, is brilliant, beautiful, and moving. "Parents Arrive" could stand as indicative of the group -- a somber guitar line establishes itself, a Möbius strip of melodic ideas, adding and subtracting elements as it progresses, turning in over itself, buttressed by a droning synth pulse. With only the title to go on for context, the track evokes feelings of both the end of fun when the parents do arrive, and also the comforting feel of one's elders returning home. "Insides" appears in the second half of the album, and somewhat anomalously it contains the closest thing to percussion on the album. Again, Hills gentle fretwork is out front, but a glitchy something (looped vinyl scratching, maybe?) provides the forward momentum, like a lost B-side from Piano Magic. Something as simple-sounding as this album can't really be categorized; it stands outside of genre pigeonholing. Put it in the category of simply amazing. A quiet masterpiece in the tradition of the Durutti Column's best work, best suited for late nights and contemplation.

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