Experimental Audio Research

Beyond the Pale

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Recorded in 1992 and promised to appear shortly after Mesmerised's release, Beyond the Pale only finally surfaced four years later, on a completely different label than indicated. Arguably this had something to do with Kevin Shields, who makes his one and only appearance on an E.A.R. album with the first track, also the title song -- perhaps they had to remix it to death or something. Whatever the exact reason, Beyond the Pale also is the one time the original four members of the group, Shields, Sonic Boom, Martin, and Prevost, all performed together under the E.A.R. rubric. Boom is credited with main songwriting and producing, understandable as he was taking the lead with the whole thing in the first place, though he and Martin did mix the album together at Shields' London studios. "Beyond the Pale" itself is an attractive monster of a track -- hearing everything from Martin's doomy, echoing drones and massive wah-wah guitar to Prevost's bowed cymbals in the mix makes for a fascinating and disturbing experience. Shields' own guitar work steers away from recreating My Bloody Valentine, instead sounding like strange howls in the distance and calmer, simpler tones up-front amidst the expected Boom touches. Another long monster of a song, "In the Cold Light of Day," sounds like a full collaboration minus Shields, with distorted, stretched-out Martin saxophone and other chilling sonic touches dominating, along with more odd, entrancing percussion work from Prevost and mournful sighs from at least one of the members. "Dusk" definitely has an overwhelming sense of Martin's low, dark musical meditations, minor keys echoing into the infinite. The remaining numbers sound more predominantly like Boom with occasional guest help, as with the buried drumming from Prevost on "The Calm Beyond" or the warm oscillations turned harsher via Martin's work on "The Circle Is Blue."

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