Dredg

Leitmotif

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With this major-label reissue of their independent release, Dredg presents an imposing, large-form sound, influenced equally by classic concept albums and contemporary hardcore elements. Washes of distorted guitar course through long, drone-based passages interspersed with low-key instrumental segues, as singer Gavin Hayes outlines a story of a wanderer's search for and attainment of redemption. Much of the message is buried within the roaring din that is something of a trademark for this San Jose foursome, but attention is given as well to seductive, Eastern-inflected melodies and more than a few jazz-inflected but heavy-handed jams. The predominant references, however, are psychedelic: the abstract synthesizer noises and murky guitar abstractions of "Intermission," the somewhat superfluous incorporation of cello on "Movement IV: RR," the haphazard application of the title "Minuet II: Crosswind Minuet" to a piece written in a waltz-like 6/8, the disconnected bits that lead from "Movement III: Lyndon" to the balls-out high point of the album, "Penguins in the Desert," and especially the anarchic doodles at the end of the album, which recall nothing so much as the indulgences of After Bathing at Baxter's. It's an ambitious vision that drives Leitmotif, one that's better appreciated in its entirety than in its sometimes frayed details.

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