Fire Shepherds

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There's a melancholy on Fire Shepherds that won't be lost on the fans of Tortoise's epic TNT and Telefon Tel Aviv's catalog. But that's where the comparisons to those esteemed groups stop and Loka begin to turn heads as a wonderfully executed hybrid between chillout electronic music, fusion, and prog rock. Lead masterminds Karl Webb and Mark Kyriacou play a wide variety of instruments as well as manning the production board for the album's sweet sound, complete with dramatic string arrangements falling somewhere between a '70s spy movie and Charles Stepney. The compositions are long but wonderfully arranged, and change enough to make for engaging listening without getting stale. And while the album is solid from start to finish, the album's two-part closer, "Tabernacle," alone makes it worth the price of admission. A wonderfully electronic jazz-inflected epic that rivals some of the best moments of 4hero and Innerzone Orchestra's Programmed, the finale leaves a lingering feeling of wanting more. And that is no small feat to accomplish in a market where chillout records are a dime a dozen.

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