In the romantic Shakespeare play The Tempest, subservient island dweller Caliban explains, "... the isle is full of noises/Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not/Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments/Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices..." to convey the mysterious beauty of his home. This hypnotic, magical atmosphere, and the motifs of wild water, drowning, and mysterious sounds are mirrored by Broken Water on their second album and Hardly Art debut that shares its title with the classic work. Just as the duke and magician Prospero conjured a storm to shipwreck his ousters, the Olympia-based ethereal noise rockers' dense, swirling layers of guitar and dissonant bass grooves suggest the ambience of misty air, wild winds and choppy seas. Naturally, water is a recurring theme on Tempest; "Drown" describes a disappearing shoreline, crashing waves and gasping for air as the band conjures a dronelike maelstrom, while the heavy, blissful reverb of "River Under the River" makes the case for Broken Water as the wild child of My Bloody Valentine and Unwound, and the meandering, ghostly voiced "Yanka Dyagileva" -- named after the Siberian punk-folk artist who lost her life in the icy Inya River -- serves as the musical equivalent of a warning from the beyond to passing ships. Fans of guitarist Jon Hanna's vocals, which have the deadpan quality of Thurston Moore and Dave Brylawski, will enjoy his increased presence on Tempest, especially on the thrashing "Underground" and with the mid-tempo sludge of "When You Said", both giving some release from the intensity of the rest of the record. When it all comes together, like the play it takes its name after, Tempest is turbulent, dark and wondrous.
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AllMusic Review by Chrysta Cherrie