Kicker in Tow

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Produced by Godspeed You Black Emperor!'s Efrim, Hangedup's sophomore outing is a more fully realized album than the group's debut. Kicker in Tow is a hypnotic collection of avant-rock/art-punk compositions spurred to life by Genevieve Heistek's amplified, often percussive viola and Eric Craven's inventive drumming (with touches of electronica occasionally augmenting the proceedings). The mention of the players only hints at the racket this duo can make, however, for the disc is full of raw and inventive improvisational explorations that seem to come from more than simply viola and percussion. "Kinetic Work" sounds much as the title would suggest, with a flurry of drums and pulsing viola. Other highlights include the muscular drums and aggressive string attack of "Winternational" and the pensive closer "Broken Reel," which features some soaring viola. This is not a release for the faint-hearted or traditional-minded, as it's swamped in improvisation and avant-gardisms (with little melody for relief), but those who can weather these qualities will enjoy a daring work.

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