The Remote Viewers

Sudden Rooms in Different Buildings

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The Remote Viewers' follow-up to The Minimum Programme of Humanity is a puzzling album -- after a first listen, it is not surprising that it was released on the Petts' own label General Ear instead of Leo Records. Now, that doesn't mean Sudden Rooms in Different Buildings is not good, but it sure requires more effort from the listener. The six pieces consist mostly of electronic soundscapes. Louise Petts' rapturing voice appears only to interpret Japan's old song "Ghosts" -- it's never sounded so otherworldly. As for the saxophones, they too make themselves more discreet. So if you expect the group's usual balance of songs, sax pieces, and decadent electronics, you will be disappointed at first. With perseverance, Sudden Rooms in Different Buildings will grow on you. "Eroding the Dead Wall" is not eroding just that, but also the eardrums as high-pitched wails play hide and seek with one another. "External Securement" and "The Unlistening Vent" are sleek and creepy electronic pieces, dark ambient for the anachronically deranged. "Inside the Unwanted Bond," the only sax trio of the set, explores rough drones backed by electronics. In "The Frontier of Presence," Louise rolls exotic bird calls off her tongue, looped and multi-tracked to form, with the addition of ambient drones and vocal hums, an overwhelming jungle. Odd? Yes. Surprising? Not that much; the Remote Viewers were ripe for a certain change in direction and this album shows that they can outgrow the formula established in their five previous albums while remaining faithful to their aura of mystery and seduction.

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