Land of Nod

Mont Ventoux

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A short release from the Land of Nod, Mont Ventoux appears to be part indulgence of the band's bicycle and Tour de France fetish (on another release they list cycling legend Eddy Merckx in a thank you section, while presumably that's Jacques Anquetil talking on the track titled after his last name). Not entirely, though, if only because "San Juan Capistrano" refers to the town of that name in California. The Land of Nod's familiar approach to music-making -- careful deliberation on the one hand, seemingly endless depth on the other -- lets the group find an effective middle way. It isn't sprawling or overwhelming shoegaze on the one hand, but neither is it the totally fragile and spare approach of, say, Labradford on the other. "Altitude," with its slowed down power pop jangle melody, and the bass-led title track are two of the best songs that capture this balance, a full rock band that knows how to suggest more with a lot less. That isn't to say the band can't cut loose in unusual ways; "San Juan Capistrano" itself is at times a discordant (but not free-form) collage of samples, instrumental snippets, and curious rhythms. Best of the bunch: "Sommet," with simple but entrancing acoustic guitar parts indeed suggesting the top of some peak somewhere, winds gently hissing around a beautiful spot high in the air.

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