Static Films

Love of Light

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The slow, slightly wracked piano-and-vocals start to Static Films' second album, the not-quite title track "Loss of Light" readily confirms that this is a CD not at its best heard when driving 100 mph down a desert freeway with the wind in your hair and sucking down Jack Daniels. But like so many albums that quite happily have nothing to do with the overblown rock myth, Love of Light finds its own particular virtue, if not always the easiest one. Bandleader Mark Trecka's compositions often share a similarity to the underrated early work of the Black Heart Procession, full of shadows, empty saloons and, often, a single naked voice of regret or calmly wounded retrospection. But like that band's work, energetic brawling appears often on Love of Light when least expected, whether it's the sudden dramatic rush of drums on "Song for Birds," or how the arrangement shifts to a muscular if still steady combination of cymbal clash and louder vocals on "Toward You in the Water." The latter is perhaps the album's hidden masterpiece, a nearly-eight-minute long piece that incorporates dramatic silences, quick breakdowns, haunting sea shanty backing vocals, and a coda with drums that sound like distant cannon fire. "A Graceful, Arching Action" comes darned close, thanks to a serene opening that feels like a rural church service at the end of a summer afternoon, aspirational and yet somehow just a bit sad and regretful. Trecka's regular collaborator Douglas Tenow adds unexpected, quietly elegant touches throughout the album -- here a slow, meditative clarinet part, there a glaze of gentle but essential organ -- while the rest of the lineup (especially Evan Hydzik, whose drumming (as noted) works wonders, the more so because he so often does not play) stands Trecka's work in very good stead.

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