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Ephemera Review

by Ned Raggett

Collecting tracks from a 12" and 7" single as well as one of two numbers from a CD EP, Ephemera perhaps has an appropriate enough name, but the results show that the San Francisco group does have more to offer beyond their full-length efforts. "The Waltz," which appropriately enough takes the time and rhythm of such a composition, turns up first; the clear recording and steady, moody pace show the group's Slint/Mogwai jones in full effect, while the slow evolution of a more digital-delay-ridden psychedelic float brings the gentle bliss-out in equal measure. The concluding five minutes take a slight return back to the start, only now as a full rock epic -- still steady, but stately, a striving for a higher place with audible feedback scrapes and edge. With that setting the pace, the remaining four numbers explore similar combinations of performance and arrangement; most take over 15 minutes, with the 7" effort, "Two Sides of Myself," being the exception, though arguably its two parts can be combined and considered one song in ways. The first follows the steady, stripped-down beauty evident just about everywhere else on the collection, while the second takes out the drums for a fully chilled, dark ambient float and reverb, with low, stretched-out moans resolving into a beautiful, truly haunting effort. "Looking for Things" builds up to an understated climax and false ending, fully going quiet before a slight ghost of noise returns, a speaking voice and odd little drones hidden under what sounds like vinyl crackle here and there. "Searching for Things," the longest track of all at nearly 25 minutes, uses all that time well, a slow-moving slice of head-nodding, post-shoegaze drift with just enough tension and bite amid the textures to really work well.

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