Franciscan Hobbies

Walls Are Stuck

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Jewelled Antler/Thuja gurus Glenn Donaldson and Loren Chasse are getting to the point where their prolificacy equals the likes of Bill Laswell -- turn around and there's another project or a new collaboration. But so long as the music is of interest then all is well, and Walls Are Stuck, the fourth album Donaldson, Chasse, and a number of collaborators have released under the Franciscan Hobbies guise, is a nicely fractured collection of murky and cryptic instrumental explorations. Drones, off-kilter mixes via muffled mikes, and calm, reflective meditations all form part of Walls Are Stuck, helping to demonstrate how the confluence of various traditions old and new have fed into the continuing post-psychedelic unwinding that many labels like Jewelled Antler document. Quick cuts from one piece to another and the use of various instruments in different contexts and styles from moment to moment make Walls Are Stuck a kaleidoscopic collection, where you hear the many contributors all try to do something a little different each time. Space in the mix suddenly gets filled by harsh breathing; conventional chords are replaced by something more atonal. The perhaps inevitable flip side is that while the album works as a piece its individual parts vary in quality -- what becomes a slow ramble through style and sound together doesn't always stand out individually. Still, the strongest moments shine through well enough, usually the quietest and most conventional (on the face of them) providing even a simple melodic hook to catch the ear, as the understated "The Happy Burial" shows. "Satan Crystals," because of or despite the unprepossessing name, is a beautiful composition, with what sounds like autoharp ringing with crystalline strength, while "Asmodeus," far from being a violent invoking of the demon below, is an intense overlay of sounds and notes caught somewhere between Dadamah and an Appalachian improv group.

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