The North Sea

Bloodlines

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Beginning with the murmuring keyboard burble of the title track, shifting from mechanistic buzz to drowsy crawl and back as bells echo along with further noises, Bloodlines finds Brad Rose under his main performance guise (in this case with the help of Zelienople drummer Mike Weis) continuing to explore the possibilities of electronic drone and exploration that have defined his label and writing aesthetic for a while. Divided into several tracks though most often flowing together as one piece, Bloodlines is simultaneously an exercise in relative familiarity -- those primed for murky synth howls and dankly serene and minimal melodies won't find this a sudden shock -- and a continuing reminder that the possibilities of these approaches are now much removed from their cryptic, often academic origins in the 1950s and 1960s. If anything, the frozen energy of "Missed Court Dates," its swelling tones suggesting a forward-flowing force, and the grinding zone of "Counting Down the Days" suggest further ways that everything from open-ended guitar howl to tape crumble to sheets of metallic treble can recombine into a new, immediate whole. For all the sonic grime, there is also suddenly bright calm at points as well -- the introduction to "Reunion" features a soothing, arcing feedback part that seems to reach out to the sky, a breaking of bonds. "Save Yourselves" strikes a balance between the impulses, at once shadowy and soothing and ultimately emphasizing a harsh warmth that defines the album as a whole.

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