Pure Tone Audiometry

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Pure Tone Audiometry is pure bliss. On his third album as Aarktica, Jon DeRosa hit an ingenious balance between avant-gardist guitar soundscapes, neo-folk songwriting, and post-rock dreaminess. "Out to Sea" opens the set with lush overdubbed and processed female vocals (Lorraine Lelis) over backwards guitar. Then DeRosa sings about "The Mimicry All Women Use" in a stark but ear-catching voice. The simple strummed guitar accompaniment gets a boost halfway into the track from Escapade's drummer Hadley Kahn -- at that point he should have lost the drum machine track, as the two don't always stay in sync, but that's a minor point. "Snowstorm Ruins Birthday" offers a slab of well-controlled atmospheric noise guitar before "Ocean" comes back to the indie rock ballad format. For "Big Year" and "Williamsburg Counterpoint," Aarktica turns into a real band, adding Molly Sheridan and Mahogany's Andrew Prinz on strings, bassist Ernie Adzentoivich, and the aforementioned Kahn. The former song is dark and understated, but the latter serves up a thrilling 11-minute post-rock flight replete with a slow beat and a distorted sustained guitar solo. These "band" tracks show a lot of promise, but it is their power combined to the seditious charm of the smaller-scale songs that makes Pure Tone Audiometry such a delightful album. Recommended.

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