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Album Review

The second album from the collaboration of Stephen O'Malley and Peter Rehberg again shows that the duo knows how to create involved, dark atmospheres that benefit rather than suffer from length. "Game" starts off very quietly, builds and then swerves — it is not a constant drone but an evolutionary one, not tied to overt rhythm or cycles, but to deft touching down here and there. There's a sense of improvisation, of testing out approaches, feeling one's way forward. "Theme" does bring in rhythm, a hidden muffled dreambeat, and very carefully builds up and up. It's a near-endless creepiness that, indeed, creeps — by the five-minute mark the shimmering, tortured electronics suggest something between Ligeti and Bernard Herrmann, floating ominously above a pit while waiting to cast a listener down into it. When it breaks into a swirling rise-and-fall collage before the tenth minute, that's the start of the core of the piece, a true theme as a core melody emerges from the trebly murk in a way that combines aggressive in-the-red levels with calm serenity in beautiful fashion — less Sunn 0))), say, than mid-period Flying Saucer Attack with a technological edge. "Abattoir" in its focused, grinding intensity does suggest that a whirling buzzsaw of noise is about to eviscerate the listener very messily — when it cuts off almost ten minutes in to a lower, groaning howl, the respite is welcome but only temporary in the end as everything first returns to a greater intensity, and slowly ebbs away from there. "Snow 2" ends it all on an appropriately chilling note, echoed rattling over a drifting calm, with a soft post-Cocteau Twins guitar figure adding a surprising gentleness.

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