Cul de Sac

Immortality Lessons

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AllMusic Review by

Glenn Jones' liner notes for this release make it perfectly clear that at the time of recording, the bandmembers thought they had done one of the worst shows of their career. The occasion for this particular performance was a radio station gig at Brandeis University in the summer of 1999, and Jones details everything from a generally bad mood to lack of soundchecks and interband tensions as contributing to the "whole miserable experience. "As it turned out from listening to the tapes later, Jones and company felt that in fact they had not only played one of the best shows ever, but that the station staff had captured their sound to a T. It's neither boasting nor idle praise; Immortality Lessons is a fantastically fine album, readily capturing the inventive blend of styles and approaches which made the band one of America's best art-psych groups in the '90s and beyond. Perhaps above all else it's the sense of silence and careful playing that the foursome bring which is so striking here -- consider the extremely subdued but not absent drumming on Proudman's own composition here, the brief "Enhoft Down," or the understated drive and ghostly synth that makes up Bloom's own contribution, "Tartarugas." "The Dragonfly's Bright Eye," one of two tracks that top ten minutes (the other being the excellent zoneout "Blues in E"), is a great showcase for both how the performers work together and how they can still showcase their own abilities just so. "Immortality Lessons" itself was originally written for the sessions with John Fahey but never released; as heard here, it's quite fine, Jones' guitar swooping along while Amos proceeds to go happily nuts on his keyboards and the rhythm section fluidly slips from keeping the beat to freaking out as needed.

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