Get Your Eye

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Lavender's music is a strange creature. It draws from post-rock, alternative, singer/songwriter, free improv, and meticulously written contemporary minimalist music, often all at the same time. One's first fear is to face a musical Frankenstein with its parts badly stitched. On the contrary, the result integrates all the influences (from Ornette Coleman to Anthony Braxton, Morton Feldman to Low) into a cohesive whole. The creature has only one mind and it knows what it's doing. Get Your Eye, the follow-up to the group's eponymous debut, allows less room for song; only the opening title track fits the category. Yet it doesn't feel like an exception or a concession to the Market, only that for this particular piece the vision of leader Charlie Looker needed to assume this form. There are lyrics in "Some Things Open Doors," but the piece evokes a 19th century lead (or News from Babel-feel) rather than any post-Low rock. "S' Vague" is this album's tour de force. Almost 11 minutes in duration, it goes through an impressive number of themes while building bridges between rock, jazz and contemporary music leading to places previously unheard of. The precision of Looker's writing and his clever use of clarinet (Julie Strand) and trumpet (Brett Deschenes) are spellbinding. The piece is complex but slow-moving, with the downbeat shifting constantly. "Black Shale" and the collective improvisation "Pool (Mirror Shards)," run into a couple of dead-ends, but otherwise Get Your Eye is a captivating album, surprising and unusual even by the Newsonic label's standards.

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