This split EP, featuring three tracks by the Japanese cinematic post-rock band Envy and two by Justin Broadrick's post-Godflesh shoegaze-metal act Jesu, is at times quite beautiful, but it also has moments of ordinariness. Envy's contributions, which begin the CD, mix chiming guitars and swooshing effects with more traditional post-rock riffing. Opening track "Conclusion of Existence" starts off like ambient German techno, before an almost industrial roar comes in at the halfway mark; "A Winter Quest for Fantasy" starts out dreamy and placid, but erupts into metallic hammering in its last 90 seconds; and "Life Caught in the Rain" is shimmering alt pop, with gently murmured vocals and a crescendo like Sonic Youth gone NPR, but it too gets heavy in its last quarter. Jesu's two tracks, by contrast, are artier, more complex, and much more indebted to Broadrick's long-standing interest in electronic music. The stuttering, filtered drum patterns that open the nearly 14-minute "Hard to Reach" are a fitting setup for the rest of the piece, which is the latest in a string of drawn-out explorations of guitar effects Jesu issues in lieu of songs. The EP ends with "The Stars That Hang Above You," which is a more conventional song with verses and a chorus. Over its nearly eight-minute running time, it gradually evolves from a drifting hum to something almost Godflesh-like, as the drum machine erupts into a machine-gun barrage. The Jesu half of this EP is essential to fans; the Envy tracks are a half-decent companion.
by Phil Freeman
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