Movietone

Day & Night

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Movietone's second full album found the band specifically set on low-key performances throughout; no sudden shifts to crushing volume here, more a continued, extended dream of darkly attractive (but not dour) full-band mood-outs. Unlike, say, Mazzy Star or Low, Movietone's interpretation of smoky post-psychedelic jams relies on a definite briskness offset by Kate Wright's cool vocals, softly husked but not drowsy, combined with subtle arrangements, tweaks, and experiments to add variety. Whether it's the sudden appearance of piano leads on the opening "Sun Drawing" or the snaky cool of the rhythm on "Night of the Acacias," calling to mind a moody '60s spy movie sequence, often the simplest addition transforms each song into more than the sum of its parts. Rachel Brook's clarinet work is often the secret touch that lends the songs a little something extra or unexpected, as counterbalance to the low-feedback hyperactivity shown on "Useless Landscape." The arrangements are sometimes as stripped down as possible -- nothing but guitar, bass, and piano appears on "Noche Marina," one of the most intensely beautiful moments on a lovely album. Electricity isn't needed to carry the flow of Day & Night or a song's individual power; a buried cymbal fill or two aside, "Blank Like Snow" consists of nothing but Kate Wright and acoustic guitar, her obsessive focus suggesting a more deliberate Nick Drake circa Pink Moon. Slow solo piano, meanwhile, stands front and center on "Summer," with viola-produced drones and Matt Jones' subtle, barely there percussion creating a most unseasonal chill before a sudden uplift of gentle activity reminiscent of Talk Talk's late-period bursts takes the fore. The longest track on Day & Night concludes it, with "The Crystallisation of Salt at Night" finding all the members adding just about everything (including Jones on prepared piano) to create an involving ending for a striking, unique album.

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