Unwed Sailor

The White Ox

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On The White Ox, Unwed Sailor have pushed the instrumental post-rock experimentalism to its limit. Past records, such as 2003's Marionette and the Music Box, and the Circles EP have hinted at the hushed dynamics, restrained guitars, a certain gray dreaminess, and spacious production that appear in such abundance here. Clocking in at about 33 minutes, The White Ox has a conceptual feel like Marionette did. There are only six cuts, but each idea in these songs is stretched to its limit by repetition and very gradually changing modes. Since its inception, Unwed Sailor has been trying to make music with no seams, where the beginning of one line evolves so gradually into another that not only do songs, which have many parts, seem like one piece, but like an entire work coming together in the same way. That said, the vocals that appear in "Gila," almost chant-like coming out of the layered guitars and trance-like repetitive snare, are a surprise. They disappear as simply and edgelessly as they appeared, leaving only a single percussive sound followed by an amplifier buzzing to interrupt the silence. Those same wordless whisperings appear at the commencement of "Numbers." The little nursery rhyme guitar parts, ambient sounds, and sparse percussion all add up to a rainy afternoon dreamscape. While this is desirable and in places even beautiful, the sheer lack of drama in the Unwed Sailor's music here is simply too much -- or perhaps too little -- to handle. Certainly things happen in this music, but without force, without any change in emotional terrain. With a sheer and utter lack of tension, this music is actually capable of creating disinterest. It's refrigerator music with a melody. It's so relaxed, its transparent and uninteresting as a whole.

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