Charles Atlas

Play the Spaces

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AllMusic Review by

The five-song follow-up to the Charles Atlas debut continues the mix of restrained delicacy, melancholy, and haunted airs that made the band an attractive proposition from the start. A good half of the disc consists of a sole song, "Pleiades 20," which evolves in a slow series of progressions and subtle changes to become its own kind of miniature epic. There's a sense of lift and grace to the whole piece, and by sticking to the pattern of keeping the playing calm and the arrangements simple while adding enough echo and dreamy flow to satisfy mid-'80s Cocteau Twins, a lovely balance is the result. Of the remaining songs, "Pondcup" begins things in a way not far removed from the Durutti Column's early sparse approach, but with a bit of country twang bubbling up in place of drum machine hits. "Fishhooks, Eyeless" is a bit "Pleiades 20" in brief, but also has a hint of "Pondcup" in a touch of twang, with enough drama to suggest Mogwai's calmer moments (further emphasized by the appearance of drums toward the end). "Pleiades 27" isn't a counterpart per se to the longer piece -- it has a slightly quicker energy thanks to its lead piano part, definitely the core instrument of this song -- but fits in excellently with the remainder of the album nonetheless. Perhaps the most appropriately titled is "Somnia" -- if "insomnia" is all about the lack of sleep, this composition concerns the gentle embrace of Morpheus' arms, something one could easily imagine gently drifting away to late at night.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
4:01
2
13:02
3
7:06
4
4:51
5
5:01
blue highlight denotes track pick