Idylls & Secret Remains

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Lucid's second album, with a truly impenetrable title, continues where Baby Labyrinthian left off, again consisting of a full CD's worth of numerous, seemingly fractured pieces woven together as an enveloping sonic experience. If anything Idylls & Secret Remain goes to greater extremes -- on the one hand, the self-conscious elegance of the ae label went to its furthest with the paper packaging around the CD case. A song like "Room of the Body Prose," consisting solely of piano, suggests the ambient work of Harold Budd, heightening the mood of total contemplation. On the other, the cryptic and unsettling air of Lucid's earlier work is heightened here, vocals often distanced completely or reduced to spare, alien chants -- not a horror movie soundtrack (though "Premonition's Core," with its creaking doors and dark winds, comes close) but not easy listening, either. Dale Lloyd again appears to be the prime mover, right down to the photography, but various collaborators on everything from strings to fonts flesh out the details in the mix as before. Picking out individual moments, as with Lucid's debut, seems to detract from the album's clear intent to be seen as a whole, but there are definite highlights, such as the spare (and perfectly titled) "Transient Treasures" and the muffled-music-box melody of "Swarming Sweet," with vocals floating up out of the gentle murk. When Idylls concentrates on pure sonics -- the mechanical chugging and thunder noises opening "In Vain, the Mind Grope, the Eye Stare," what sounds like a seashore or boat-in-the-water sequence on "The Reverberation of His Day" -- one can almost imagine the moody art film it should accompany.

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