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LITERATURE

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

MUSIC

 » 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]

MUSIC

 » 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!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

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
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Mandarin
Fast>Future>Present
54'40 or Fight! Records

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Some people have power great enough that, when angered, a single statement hissed under their breath can inspire a chilled reaction, far more than anything shrieked or commanded. These sorts are sinister enough to instill true and lasting fear, not just the threat of punishment. Mandarin is a band of such power.

Glassy and controlled, their volume rarely ever reaches peak intensity, though their sentiment is constantly on edge. This allies them with such terrifying and unpredictable counterparts as Polvo and Red Red Meat, ensuring a heightened tension cloaked in whispers.

Fast>Future>Present is not a safe choice by any means. So much of this feels uncharted, requiring more trust than one would sensibly have. While you're aware of the danger, there's no option but to proceed, and the effect is thrilling.

"When Heat Sleeps" begins the album with the visceral, hoarse beckoning that belies their evil purposes. Lulling into a sly drone and mastering heavy Codeine-inspired guitars, it would seem harmless if not laden with such thick foreshadowing. By the track's end, industrial noises creep in amongst the strained whispers, confining to the ethic of a Dickensian workhouse. It's as if to say, "From here on out, you do what you're told."

The following "Shadow Your Shadow" showcases the band's other side, connected and mathy with bright and hopeful spots, but mired by grimy guitars. These somewhat light excursions distract the ear just long enough to get coaxed back into comfort, allowing perfect timing for more vicious attacks.

"The Beginning Hides the End" does just that, hiding its sharpness inconspicuously within a dulcet, acoustic melody. When ghostly souls begin to howl in exile, the pretty scenery is no longer a comfort.

Even when perusing their more straight-laced attempts, Mandarin is wonderfully tricky: they play on changing dynamics, accounting for an intriguing listen at every juncture. "Pilot Light," while indebted to a guttural rock sound, incorporates a maddening time scale that diverges from predictability. "Holiday" is at first a pattern of muted post-rock, but breaks into echoes of a warbling, alien aftermath.

Closing with the absurdly villainous "The Gift of Not Living," Fast>Future>Present becomes an abduction of sorts, whisking you away despite your best judgment. Its conclusive, cloistered sighs are hopeless and familiar; its dark, inescapable tunnels would not be tread by choice. Yet, there you are - and to the band's clever advantage, it never gets more comfortable than that.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

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