Yawling Night Songs

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On their debut album, Slumberwood show themselves to be a good entry in the quietly resurgent field of arty Italian rock in the 21st century. Dramatic, sometimes melodramatic, but with an ear for the cinematically mysterious more than the operatic, Yawling Night Songs reflects clear influences from improvisational psychedelia over the decades. The slow-burning crunch and grind of "Yahoo," shaded by distant chanting, and the wheezing, down-home harmonica rave-up of "Il Verme Solitario" are fairly heavy tracks, but that's far from their only mode. Unlike the more direct whimsies of their countrymen and near contemporaries Jennifer Gentle, the incomprehensible but increasingly agitated vocals on "Galline," and distanced, singing sighs on "Mr. Sandman" are unsettling steps. But the initial staccato and then sweetly flowing acoustic guitars of "Thru Crop Fields" are ragged echoes of sound that loom below, and the surging, electric, near-post-punk lope of "Help Me Grampa," big but not overwhelming, are further balances. If anything, Slumberwood might best resemble such collectives as Starving Weirdos, playing with sound as they see fit to create songs somewhere between genre exercise and their own curious logic.

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