Crickets and Fireflies

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Crickets and Fireflies brings together three like-minded artists for an exercise in ambience and experimentalism. One track each from fellow Pacific Northwesterners Kinski and Surface of Eceon and two from Detroit sludge-psych rockers Paik are long, amorphous, improvised-sounding, and entirely instrumental. Kinski veer closer to their Herzog side project, which is basically Kinski without a drummer as they would be heard from again on their 2004 release Don't Climb on and Take the Holy Water. Their contribution, the 20-minute "Keep Clear of Me, I Am Maneuvering with Difficulty," starts off with eight minutes of noodley formlessness before the rhythm section cranks up a single-chord mantra and the guitars go berserk with ricocheting skronk and scree, before the song crumbles in upon itself in the aural equivalent of dying embers. Surface of Eceon is a conceptual-leaning sometimes-side project for members of Portland's Yume Bitsu and their co-conspirators from Landing which dabbles dangerously close to a fantasy/sci-fi Dungeons and Dragons motif, and their 30-minute space rock opus "Concert of Stars" here is no exception. A patiently unfolding monolithic soundscape emerges from layers upon layers of hazy guitar abstraction revealing the majesty and grandeur that we have come to know as unique to Yume's Adam Forkner (also of White Rainbow, et al.). The shortest track by far comes from Paik. At only seven minutes "Eva" encapsulates what makes this trio great: texture and tension, drone and drift. And the most successful track comes from Paik as well in the form of the 13-minute "Spanish Holiday," which is a slow-burning epic of sonic bliss that gives a wry nod to the bombastic dynamics of the most sturm und drang tendencies of their post-rock peers. Its wall of guitars and steadfast martial timpani leave a lingering vapor trail of catharsis long after the last wave of feedback subsides.