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Noctilucent Valleys

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Album Review

Building on an earlier CD-R release, the formal debut of personal and professional partners Christine Boepple and Loren Chasse (the latter known for his work with the Jewelled Antler team Ov) on Nocturnal Valleys finds them creating an enjoyable blend of lighter and more melancholy pieces, mostly instrumentals, that draw on classic psychedelia, abstruse folk (without being freak folk as such — at least, there aren't any winsome lyrics about butterflies drowning in butter and the like), and the kind of dramatic '70s rock & roll albums that should have soundtracked classic stoner films more often than not. Opening track "Arms of the Mountain" certainly feels like the perfect start, with an autoharp melody collapsing into a swell of cloudy feedback that itself rises in gentle intensity. With this as a guide, the album continues to explore various combinations involving these elements, with aural hints ranging from the roil of classic gamelan to the murky, encompassing sonic drowning of any number of electric guitar experimenters over recent decades. Boepple's singing occasionally surfaces quietly, as on "The Noctilucent Valley." At its most powerful, Nocturnal Valleys essays successful attempts on the kind of crushing melancholia so many other bands strain for but fail to achieve — the first part of the lengthy "Bone of the Bone Scholar/Moon of the Moon Scholar," with its calm keyboard drones and downbeat, low tones in general, feels almost like a graceful last sigh before slipping away from this universe for whatever else might be out there. Meantime, the stately echoing pace of "Centaur in Saturn" and the serene float of "The Noctilucent Cloud" make for excellent drift/zone moments, the latter especially calling to mind the powerful work of Roy Montgomery.

Noctilucent Valleys, Ov
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