The Hope Blister

Underarms

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Released as part of 4AD's mail order/Internet-only series, Underarms is an engaging and largely instrumental collection of outtakes from the ...smile's ok sessions. Though the debut consisted solely of covers, five of the seven tracks here were written by Hope Blister creator Ivo Watts-Russell, engineer John Fryer, bassist Laurence O'Keefe, and cellist Audrey Riley. The disc provides a darkly ambient companion to ...smile's ok. The gorgeous, minimalist drone to both parts of "Sweet Medicine" provides a cyclical lean, and a couple tracks are downright sinister, on par with any of Main's harrowing soundscapes. "Strings" versions of Neil Halstead's (Slowdive) "Dagger" and David Sylvian's "Let the Happiness In" fill out the disc. Underarms is a small gem -- it's a shame it didn't become more widely available.

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