Strings of Consciousness

Our Moon Is Full

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In experimental circles, electronica-related and otherwise, the mid-2000s marked a slight return to the song format. Call it the logical extension of the underground folk revival or more simply a desire to apply experimental findings to genres of wider appeal, the fact remains that noisy textures, electronic constructs, and post-rock anthems permeated into the song realm, to a point where some reviewers started writing about "electro-acoustic pop." Strings of Consciousness' debut full-length marvelously illustrates how artistically successful this approach can be. The international collective blends acoustic instruments (sax, cello, trumpet, harp, vibraphone) and computer treatments; melodies and texture layers; narratives and abstractions. The group's lineup features seasoned experimentalists Hervé Vincenti, Stefano Tedesco, and Philippe Petit, Spaceheads/Pere Ubu's Andy Diagram, the Sea and Cake's Alison Chesley -- and that's only part of the group's core. Also present are the guest vocalists: Foetus' J.G. Thirlwell, Girls Against Boys' Scott McCloud, and the almighty Barry Adamson, again just to name a few. The music does not blend only sound sources (acoustic/electronic), but genres, too: folk, industrial (the Current 93-tinged "Crystallize It"), even Western in "In Between," featuring a captivating recitation by Pete Simonelli. If the album contains occasional moments of brightness (the short "Defrost_Oven" with wordless vocalizing by Lisa Smith-Klossner), most of it is pretty dark, including the disc's two undisputed highlights: "Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness," featuring Oxbow's Eugene Robinson, and "While the Sun Burns Out Another Sun," with the post-beat poetry of Black Sifichi. Our Moon Is Full adopts the song format; however, it never becomes about catchy tunes. On the contrary, this moody album requires a few listens to sink in because, even though it presents a cohesive personality, its beauties are so numerous and subtle that they take time to unfold. A serious contender for year-end lists across the board.

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