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4 August 2010

Burning Star Core - 'Challenger' (Plastic)

Another Burning Star Core LP, another label, another sound. This is one that is so incredibly precise in its vision that many consider Challenger to be the pick of the BxC litter. Certainly from a sound-quality point of view, this is the ultimate of intimate outer-awesomeness, permanently perched just over your shoulder when listening on headphones and fantastically in opposition with the rest of the world when heard on speakers. In my case there's a chainsaw audible outside my window which is just amazingly in-sync with Trevor Tremaine's guitar solo on 'Mezzo Forte'. Internally (meaning, inside the sleeve) we get some flatlined graphical scores, perhaps rough approximations of the soundforms on these eight tracks. And that's a fun thing to map out - the firecracker/percussion sounds on 'No Memories, No Plans' are certainly there, though it's the screaming voices in the background that make this track so compelling. This feels like a "fun" album, a party record, though the recordings are often somber -- reverb chambers and slowly rising and falling synthesizer/electronics parts make this anything but danceable, yet the consistency and track lengths solidify the proceedings. It's anything but filler here. There are moments of ur-drone concentration like ('Hopelessly Devoted') but they're sequenced just right, so when the drone breaks and 'Mysteries of the Organ' begins with it's melting, wispy organ pumping, it's a magically awesome trip. And 'Un Couer en Hiver' maximises the range of vinyl - processed industrial sounds of trebly, echoing field recordings - cut in and out around the windy, feather-like core. When they cut out it's practically shocking - a testament to the mastering and pressing process. And when they come back in, it's a giant boost, and a brilliant ending track. Great closers are ones that let the brakes off a little, but suggest/imply more than they show. 'Un Couer' is a gesture, beckoning towards possible worlds, perhaps a sonic transformation of the beautiful cover artwork. It's these tracks that cement the 'classic' status of albums -- for some reason what jumps to mind is 'Soon' by My Bloody Valentine, which the more I think of it, is not that far-off a comparison.

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