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The Ballasted Orchestra

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Album Review

While ambient outfits are not especially prevalent in the United States, Texas' Stars of the Lid have found a niche as an unlikely American drone duo with an impressive discography. Taking in such ambient milestones as Brian Eno's Apollo recording, Stars of the Lid's Brian McBride and Adam Wiltzie fashion eight floating gems with touches of industrial noise and movie soundtrack atmospherics. No drums or clanging guitars here, just darkish, elegiac slabs of ethereal sound taking up 12 to 18 minutes at a pop. The overall effect is both calming and provocative. And adding a bit of welcome irony to the somber proceedings, the duo come up with such bluntly perverse titles as "Sun Drugs" and "F****d Up (3:57 AM)." A bit cheeky? Yes. But the music will find even the most skeptical in a state of modern-age bliss.


Formed: Austin, TX

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Ambient drone duo Stars of the Lid was formed in Austin, TX, by guitarists Brian McBride and Adam Wiltzie, the latter also a member of Windsor for the Derby as well as the longtime soundman for Bedhead. Debuting in 1994 with Music for Nitrous Oxide, the duo returned the following year with Gravitational Pull vs. the Desire for an Aquatic Life; signing to Kranky, Stars of the Lid next resurfaced in 1997 with the epic The Ballasted Orchestra. 1998's Per Aspera Ad Astra, a collaboration with painter...
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The Ballasted Orchestra, Stars of the Lid
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