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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Present
World I See

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

October 3, 2008
The Present is a new progressive, atmospheric group headed by Rusty Santos, a notable New York musician and producer who has worked with and produced the likes of Panda Bear and Animal Collective. Santos is joined on the group's initial full-length album, World I See, by Jesse Lee and Mina. Lee is a long-time musical confidant, with whom Santos has been teaming up with since their high school days. Mina is a somewhat more recent addition to the musical fold, and brings classical piano and a love of traditional Japanese music to the group. Their music is molded through Santos' time-tested method of letting the unconscious takeover, and then using improvisation techniques to further form and shape the songs. The album certainly has an organic feel to it, and the music regularly sounds as if it emanates directly from Santos' mystical, disjointed thoughts.

Although the release is comprised of only six tracks, it has a running time that reaches full-length album status. "Heavens on Ice," the first track, stretches over thirteen minutes, and is comparable to some of the more extended, encapsulating tracks of Panda Bear. This introductory track screeches, thumps, distorts, and frightens its way into the listener's heart and soul. Twisting and turning every which way, the intensity and epic nature of the track sets the tone for the music that follows. "Symbols on High" and "Africanized Beatniks" both stretch to eleven minutes in length, and are packed with simple, catchy rhythms. The latter of the two is probably the most impressive track of the six, as its engaging interludes collide to form a delightful musical collage.

Similar to other atmospheric bands, The Present do not rely heavily on vocals. When his voice is brought into the mix, Santos uses it more as an instrument designed to mesmerize the listener rather than express coherent thoughts or philosophies. This technique appears to be gaining popularity as a tactic with the current wave of atmospheric groups, and it's nice to see the music evolving in this manner, striking a balance between purely instrumental bands and those with largely useless lyrics.

As a complete work World I See certainly flows well, with each track continuing the cohesive, yet schizophrenic path of the last. Ingenuity and imagination reign supreme on this album, as the collection of music both ignites the senses and puts the mind at ease.

While it doesn't quite have the staying power to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the work of today's elite atmospheric artists, World I See is engaging enough to hold its ground. The Present are at their best when complexity and diversification are heightened, but they tend to lose the mystical element of their music when these characteristics are relaxed, which happens to frequently at times.

Reviewed by Brian Christopher Jones
A student living in Scotland and working toward a PhD in law.

See other reviews by Brian Christopher Jones



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