» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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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
Red Sparowes
At the Soundless Dawn
Neurot Recordings

Rating: 8/10 ?

June 24, 2005
"Alone And Unaware, The Landscape Was Transformed In Front Of Our Eyes. Buildings Began To Stretch Wide Across The Sky, And The Air Filled With A Reddish Glow. The Soundless Dawn Came Alive As Cities Began To Mark The Horizon. Mechanical Sounds Cascaded Through The City Walls And Everyone Reveled In Their Ignorance. A Brief Moment Of Clarity Broke Through The Deafening Hum, But It Was Too Late. Our Happiest Days Slowly Began To Turn Into Dust. The Sixth Extinction Crept Up Slowly, Like Sunlight Through The Shutters, As We Looked Back In Regret."

This dark and ominous imagery is actually the track listing of At the Soundless Dawn by Red Sparowes, a collective of artists comprised of Isis' Bryant Clifford Meyer and Jeff Caxide, along with Neurosis' John Graham, Greg Burns of Halifax Pier, and Dana Berkowitz of the Converge spin-off The Cignal. With a group like that, it's hard to predict what's going to come out of your speakers - but with names like Isis and Neurosis hanging around, I thought I had an idea what to expect: something pretty loud with loads of musical posturing. I was wrong. There is much more to this.

This fact was made apparent to me as soon as the opening track, "Alone And Unaware, The Landscape Was Transformed In Front Of Our Eyes," came creeping in. The eight-minute opener offered ambient drums and atmospheric guitar work, in tones of layers that resulted in plenty of intensity without being intrusive. There was no sign of any lyrical inclusion, which is always risky business. There was even a sliding steel guitar line that took the initial lead into the album. These elements, even this early on in the disc, were unexpected; likewise, they were very welcome surprises, as they meant Red Sparowes, in their debut, were out to do something a little different.

The words 'lush' and 'smooth' are not those I was thinking of using to describe this disc, but it's difficult to describe it any other way, especially in contrast to my earlier expectations. This, however, is much more of a contemplative, melodic and inspired tension-building instrumental introduction to a collective of talented artists who are looking to branch out into some interesting and dynamic territory - that is to say, rather than the heavy and aggressive display of instrumental showmanship I was expecting. This group is evidently working together to create something of considerable more worth than that.

The album itself takes on a theme of an event deemed 'the sixth extinction.' This much can be told from the track listings, which go on to form an entire paragraph describing the rise of human cities and machinery, and eventually, the arrival of the end. The entire album follows this plot chronologically, as it musically and dramatically builds up to such an event. Without going too much into the whole theory, a little research will reveal that this event is something scientists are debating that we are in the middle of, and apparently the Red Sparowe is right up there on the list as one of the first creatures to fall as we fumble our way through our own evolution.

Keeping this theme in mind but focusing on the Sparowes' recording, the music does not disappoint. Each track effectively tells the tale of its respective title through musical imagery created by the Sparowes' collective ability to form strong dynamics and create builds that rise to incredible crescendos and necessitate a cooling off period. As they ease off and relent, they give the listener the opportunity to absorb what he or she has just heard. Importantly, not all of the songs draw out the same emotional response, as some act as the eye in the hurricane, bringing moments of seeming peace or hope; others focus on creating an animated scene left solely to the imagination.

To witness this phenomenon, see "Mechanical Sounds Cascaded Through The City Walls And Everyone Reveled In Their Ignorance." For the first three minutes, its mechanical sounds are created through what I believe to be some drastic guitar effects, and are played in an echoing pattern which helps you internalize the image that you are, in fact, standing there in the midst of a massacre and the mechanical noise is bouncing off the city structures around you. This leads into the heart of the song, where sentiments of 'what have we done' are implied through a tastefully and patiently plucked guitar line. This track is merely an example of the kind of imagery that the Sparowes are capable of, and it would be far too excessive to describe how they do so in a track-by-track description - but taking on such a task without any inclusion of any lyrical descriptions and such an organic sound is quite a daunting task that the Sparowes have done quite well to accomplish.

I have to admit, it is refreshing to listen to a recording that inspires interaction in a way other than 'you must dance', or, 'listen to us play our instruments,' and it is a sign of good things to come from Red Sparowes. They sit you down and, in a way, say, "Here's a little story. We're going to play some music now. See if you can picture it for yourself." So if you're planning on rocking At the Soundless Dawn out your car window to impress people, that's not quite the right way to go about enjoying this album; it is better to start with the thematic story in your mind, then put on your headphones and let the scenes unfold in your mind, as they would in your keenest instincts.

Reviewed by Randy Gaudreau
Holding down the fort up north in Vancouver, Randy Gaudreau is currently chipping away at things that keep him from forming some sort of life that would only work for him and everyone is proud of him for.

See other reviews by Randy Gaudreau



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