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Drawn to Dust

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Album Review

Drawn to Dust is the pop debut of indie film score composer Max Avery Lichtenstein (Tarnation, Jesus' Son, etc.), working under the collective name Camphor. As one would expect from an artist with Lichtenstein's background, there is an uncannily cinematic quality to Drawn to Dust: tracks like the opening "Daybreak" and the mid-album respite for strings, "Beauty in Ruins," are as carefully orchestrated and exquisitely arranged as the most effective film score. Even more pop-oriented songs, like the country-tinged "Castaway" and "Confidences Shattered" have an epic, elegant quality one doesn't often associate with this brand of indie rock. The closest musical comparisons are Broken Social Scene (a similarly open-ended, collective structure that adds greatly to the album's sonic variety) and Talk Talk, whose later albums delved into a similar blend of dreamy pop, modern classical, and third stream jazz. The album's secret weapon, however, is that Lichtenstein turns out to be a surprisingly effective pop songwriter, with a particular knack for choruses that subtly insinuate themselves into the subconscious after only a couple listens. Even a lot of the best-known bands working in this approximate style, including the Flaming Lips, get by on atmosphere and vibe much of the time, but Drawn to Dust's combination of lovely, often fascinating layered arrangements and substantial melodies makes it a more satisfying album than many similar works.

Biography

Formed: 2006 in New York, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Max Avery Lichtenstein — a New York-based producer, composer, songwriter, and member of the indie rock outfit Timesbold — is the driving force behind Camphor's atmospheric chamber pop. After writing music for several independent films (including Jesus' Son, Tarnation, and The King), Lichtenstein became interested in creating songs that were unrelated to cinema. Launching a new project in 2006, he drew from a combination of organic (horns, harp, woodwinds) and manufactured instruments...
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Drawn to Dust, Camphor
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