Saturday, 9 June 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #207 - The Hundred in the Hands, "Red Night"

This was shoved in my direction by the expert curator of all things mindworthy, Darren E Parry of Mon FM fame. He is a fan of the unusual; as his music show The Difference Engine would lead you to expect.

There is cavernous empty noises with the absent echoes of string sections at the beginning of "Empty Stations" as she sings of trains and absence over a locomotive rhythm, something about a "midnight broadcast/Your voice like white noise", then it kicks off into clashing brassy orchestral cacophony. There's a Europhile sheen to "Recognise" that I can't quite ..erm, recognise. Reminds me of Mezzanine era Massive Attack. A slow-moving guitar motif that struts at a kingly pace.

"Come With Me" ups the pace a bit, then the title track goes back to the mezzanine. Dream pop, eh? It has the creamy pace of dreams alright, but not so much of the unpredictability, I suppose. The lyrics are hard for me to catch, as usual, so I don't have as much insight there as I'd like. What I can hear seems to be about dislocation and absence. "Keep It Low" has a jagged piece of Pet Shop Boys riven through the centre: "Under solid black skies/Wide awake/I don't want to go home". Choirs swell up under more ghostly vocals in "Faded" and the pattern is pretty well established. Lyrically, more heartbreak.

Gears changes to something a bit tougher and chewier for "Tunnels" and there's talk of cities being built. There's the same architectural clang to "Stay the Night". It would possibly scare me off a bit if someone proposed a night-time of entertainment to this soundtrack. Sounds a bit strict. But there's a gorgeous stack of vocals about halfway through before the bass bubble kicks back in. It's as though a few hundred noir-ish films have been blended together and pumped into some heavy cloud cover and it's pouring down on top of us.

"Lead In The Light" has some more drifting, classical-inflected lyrics going on and big country drums. I can feel the sun rising through the cracks, casting light over Polynesian waters. And the lyrics end "I'll stay with you". So that's all resolved then.

Rating: Regal Travelogue out of Noir Clouds

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