Drawing Circles

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"Progressive" is a description that's thrown around far too liberally in rock & roll; saddled upon artists as dissimilar as Dream Theater, Phish, Isis, and Brian Eno at any given time, and all for simple lack of a better term. Perhaps "unconventional" would be a more ideal generalization, though, since, the one thing all these acts do have in common is the desire to reject mainstream music clich├ęs and try to do things differently. In accordance with this line of reasoning, what qualifies Dutch band Textures as inherently unconventional is their staunch refusal to finish songs the way they started them -- never mind following pop music's typical verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus pattern in any way, shape or form. No chance of that here, for just as was it was with their outstanding debut, one could spend a lifetime dissecting every unexpected twist and turn coursing through the whole of album number two, 2006's Drawing Circles, yet barely remember when and where any given song began or ended. And why bother, when, the band's very name explicitly suggests the importance of textures, as heard in the ambient beauty of "Upwards," the momentary, pure thrashing of "Stream of Consciousness," or the majestic advance of "Surreal State of Enlightenment," over anything so trifling as songs? Of course there is something to be said about the art of writing a simple, concise pop song (one can envision hundreds of Ramones fans lining up to challenge Textures on that very point), but since said concept would never even register on this band's radar, their only major sin of derivativeness is relying too much on that unmistakable, loping rhythm patented by Sweden's Meshuggah. Their frequency -- even if used for usually short snippets within multifaceted songs like "Drive," "Denying Gravity," and "Millstone" -- inevitably gets a little tiresome, but not enough to scuttle the remaining material's restless inventiveness. So throw away the rule book of popular music at the door, because that's an essential condition of appreciating and understanding Textures' wildly "progressive" -- errr -- "unconventional" music.

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