Antimatter

Planetary Confinement

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If it doesn't wind up signaling the very end of Antimatter, Planetary Confinement will, at the very least, close a chapter in the fruitful partnership between core members and songwriters Mick Moss and Duncan Patterson, the latter of whom announced his departure shortly after their third album's release in 2005. Tellingly, the duo never actually collaborated on these recordings, rather going about their sessions at separate dates and locations, and with entirely different casts of supporting musicians, then simply intercalating them for the final album release. That they ultimately mesh quite nicely even so is of little comfort pending further clarification about the band's future, but given the circumstances, it's worth noting that Antimatter's "gray album" (their previous two outings being characterized by distinctly near-full-white and black cover artworks) loses little in the way of overall quality. Both men continue to write songs of striking, economical beauty, though Moss tracks like "The Weight of the World" and "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" rely almost exclusively on chillingly stark and circular acoustic guitar figures (occasionally spiced with violins), while Patterson's delve in rather more varied (see the organs used in "Relapse") and often ambiently electronic sounds, particularly in the instrumental pair opening and closing the LP. What common ground does survive between the two parties is most evident in their lingering use of female vocals, though former collaborators Michelle Richfield and Hayley Windsor have also sadly been jettisoned from their midst. Here, they've been replaced by one Sue Marshall for Moss's best offering, the quite stunning "Legions," and Amélie Festa for all of Patterson's vocal offerings, which include the aforementioned "Relapse," the wonderfully melancholy "Line of Fire," and maybe best of all, a creepy-cool cover of the Trouble nugget "Mr. White," totally reinvented for these sparse surroundings. After that, all that's left to observe is that Planetary Confinement continues Antimatter's gradual replacement of synthetic music styles (electronic, techno, dub) with far more organic instrumental approach -- making for a fittingly somber finale should the band really be over.

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