Still Point of Turning

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Singer/producers are a dime a dozen in the reggae scene, but singer/multi-instrumentalist/engineer/producers are a rarity even in Jamaica, never mind in the rock world. Meet Jeff Zeigler, who turned his studio skills on himself and took his bedroom project (presumably where his studio was) into band land and onto CD. The result is his five-piece group Relay and their sublime debut album Still Point of Turning. In all the best ways, this set is obviously a studio-driven project; how else could Zeigler have created such dense textures, such shimmering atmospheres, such iridescent auras? But you don't have to be a studio whiz to appreciate his production. For example, there's a phenomenal guitar drone early on in "IDK" which seems ripped straight from the Banshees' Steven Severin's fingers, but which Zeigler takes to an entirely new aural plane, filling it with harmonics and releasing it from the crypt to fly towards the clouds. The album is rife with these kinds of eureka moments, yet Zeigler never draws overt attention to them, his skills are too silky for such unnecessary showboating. What you notice instead are the album's myriad textures, the layers of sound, the shimmering and ringing guitars, the tweak of the drumbeats, the propulsive rhythms, and the engaging harmonics. And that's before the fabulous melodies, alternately gorgeous and infectious, subtle and shining, take hold. Back in the '80s and into the shoegazing '90s, bands would have beheaded their mothers for a sound like this. Zeigler makes it seem simple and perfectly natural. There's no point however, when this album is still its in constant motion, almost quivering with life; it's like diving into an aural ocean. All told, it's a set to be savored time after time.

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