In These Days of Merriment

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Most of the promises held in Hollydrift's previous EP (Then There Was Nothing) found fruitful realization here. Mathias Anderson obviously cared less for melody and song structures than for dense textural collages. In These Days of Merriment is a 36-minute suite mostly made of odd communication signals -- outer-space satellites, number stations, ghostly voices picked up by a shortwave radio -- looped and layered to create dense sound pieces. Occasional snippets of speech are clearly heard, like the line, "I am on the air again," opening "Lorane" or, "I'm an 11-year-old girl and I know what girls think about," at the beginning of "As the World Rolls Back," but they only manage to make things more blurry by adding possible meanings. The half-heard recitation in "Wizard of the Dell" works in a similar way. If this sounds experimental, it shouldn't, at least not that much. Anderson cuts and pastes, overlays strange backgrounds, and inserts odd sounds, but he does it in a way that keeps the music (yes, music) flowing. The listener is carried over the airwaves on a journey into limbo. The experience holds a macabre seductive power, like gothic culture for the new millennium -- or an unusual incarnation of the '80s experimental industrial cassette underground (Cranioclast, for instance). This is the kind of music that tends to lock up in its own mood, so you need to be willing to accept its presence.

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