Storm & Stress

Under Thunder and Fluorescent Lights

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

On Under Thunder and Fluorescent Lights, Storm & Stress takes minimalism as its mantra, offering nine tracks full of nothing but odd instrumental chatter, askew tape samples, and the occasional (and equally odd and askew) vocal. The band seems determined to never let the mishmash of sounds congeal into anything that resembles an ordinary song: Ian Williams picks idly at his guitar, Erich Emm drops random bass notes, Kevin Shea's drum beats disintegrate as quickly as they begin; lyrics, rhythm, and melody are abandoned in favor of "avant rock" -- free jazz done by a power trio. The payoff -- and not a big payoff, mind you -- comes only if you listen closely enough. Groove and melody begin to pop up where you hadn't thought they existed and in ways you wouldn't expect: the repetitive shimmer of a cymbal, some garbled a cappella singing. At its worst, Under Thunder is just noise, albeit noise that's as tepid and inoffensive as a Windham Hill sampler. Williams, Emm, and Shea and are obviously talented musicians, and you have to respect that they take the subtle route, piling texture upon texture instead of showing off their chops. It's just too bad that the result is far too cerebral for most people's tastes.

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