Land of Nod

Archive: 02

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As the title indicates, this was the second in the series of odds-and-sods discs on the Ochre label, and this double-disc overview of the Land of Nod makes for a treat and a half. Collecting everything from mp3-only live cuts to promo 7" singles and otherwise unavailable tracks collecting dust, Archive: 02 practically sparkles with downright wonderful efforts. It's not quite the modern drone-psych equivalent to Louder Than Bombs, say, but in the same way that said Smiths collection came across as a uniform high quality effort, Archive: 02 could almost be from one inspired studio session than drawing from six years of recording. Admittedly there's a sense of general progression as the collection goes, from the gentle epic turn of "Seeing Into the Great Void" (and "Revoid," its very mid-nineties dance remix version!) to the subtler but no less involving pleasures of "Lake Merrit." So many moments of sudden beauty and deft power appear that it's almost a flood -- the clarion, rising guitar figures interspersed with the crisp cymbals and moody bass of "Interceptor #2," "Spiral" and its careful balance between deep, echoed beauty with relentless structure and exploratory, considered solos and a steady build up in the arrangement. A live rendition of "Noose of Ice" from the Ochre 5 festival captures the band's blend of warm, rich performing well (David Wrench's work on synth is a killer secret weapon), while the final seven tracks all come from an excellent 2001 concert. "Bubblebuzz," originally a compilation contribution, is another secret-no-longer gem, its rich lead melody suggesting everything from bliss out haze to the Durutti Column's pinpoint elegance, while wafts of reverb and flange surround both it and the understated rhythms before suddenly bursting forth to overwhelm the ending.

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