Spires That in the Sunset Rise

Curse the Traced Bird

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The fourth album by Chicago avant rock trio Spires That in the Sunset Rise is the group's most musically direct and immediately accessible work yet. The album was recorded in Philadelphia in collaboration with the Philly acid folk veteran Greg Weeks at his own Hexham Head Studio; members of Weeks' band, Espers, contribute as well. Gone is the deliberately noisy "free folk" aesthetic, in favor of a more controlled blend of folk, psychedelia, and Sun City Girls-like world music explorations, like the dramatic "Equus Haar," which weaves influences that echo Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and North Africa at the same time. Even at the album's most chaotic points, such as the dissonant interludes of oddly tuned harmonies and gamelan-like percussion that recur throughout the nearly ten-minute epic "Party Favors," there is a sense of restraint that was rarely a factor in earlier Spires That in the Sunset Rise releases. One song, "Java Pop," is so direct and tuneful (with backing vocals by Weeks and a hypnotic central riff) that it's easily the closest the group has ever come to a straightforward pop song. Those who liked singer/guitarist Kathleen Baird's more measured solo work (under her own name and as Traveling Bell) but found earlier Spires That in the Sunset Rise forbiddingly impenetrable will certainly find Curse the Traced Bird more to their liking.

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