27

Songs from the Edge of the Wing

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"Songs From the Center of a Melancholic Living Room" is more like it, seeing as this darkwave pop album was recorded in just that: a living room and practice space. This at-home freedom was able to capture a special organic atmosphere that's unrivaled by most studios. Hailing from Massachusetts, 27 features members of Dirt Merchants, Anodyne, and La Gritona. This female-fronted act is beautifully bleak, blending patient sparse acoustics (á la Slint), with a dark droning atmosphere filled with ethereal brilliance (á la Swans or Beyond Dawn -- same difference!). Maria Christopher's enchanting voice is subtle, yet it replicates her true inner emotions and fills the music with a potent mix of extremes. Take for example, the gentle brilliance and indie rock pop sensibility of "Bird of Paradise" -- the most well executed song on the album, and one that sees an endless pool of talent waiting to see the light of day. "The Lone Mariachi" shifts gears to a more experimental, electronic landscape, with it's tripped-out Middle Eastern, Gastr Del Sol (after listening to too much Ravi Shankar and U.S. Maple) vibe, creating a host of other emotions in the listener. The album is short, clocking in at less time than even Slayer's Reign in Blood, but each song is packed full of an assortment of moods and textures. "Warm Hands, Cold Heart" is a potent, jazzy nightclub piece, as Maria does an amazing Aimee Mann rendition, carrying the same monumental sadness, that Mann touchingly brings to her finest compositions. Mann's presence is found elsewhere, at least vocally, finding solace in the midst of offbeat, slow-core musicality like "Great Brook Valley" or the Slint-ish swagger of "Easy Trigger." Neil Young's "Danger Bird" closes the album. A heart wrenchingly beautiful journey, accented with Young's trademark, simplistically emotional, distorted blues licks. Quiet closure to an even quieter album that no diverse metal or non-metal fan should overlook.

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