The Drift

Blue Hour

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From the rumbling drums and low guitar squalls that start Blue Hour with "Dark Passage," the Drift are on a moody as hell tip throughout the album -- unsurprising given the loss of trumpeter Jeff Jacobs earlier in 2011. But as a continuation of the band and an implicit celebration of Jacobs' life, it's quite a fine result, living up to its name. "Horizon," with its spaghetti Western twang and early goth groove, demonstrates that not everything is or is meant to be seen through the lens of grief, but the hints remain constant. The "Bardo" songs alone show that with their names, emphasizing feedback ambience flow and drone in short bursts, a way of squaring their full-on band persona with the zone-out that their work implies by simple matter of removing the drums. The two long numbers, perhaps appropriately, feel the most like extended salutations, with "The Skull Hand Smiles/May You Fare Well" having more than a hint of valediction in its slow-burn rise and warm feeling as guitars arc up behind looped gentle burblings into serenely beautiful passages above a steady lope/plod of a groove, something "Fountain" equally approaches as it builds to its own piano-led conclusion. But "Luminous Friend" -- with its rich, lovely guitars buried in the background melancholy zone and, perhaps most notably on this song above all the rest on the album, its prominent bassline -- seems like even more of a true valediction and memorial to someone lost, and does so in beautiful fashion.

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