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24 September 2012

Double Leopards - 'A Pebble in Thousands of Unmapped Revolutions' (Eclipse)

When I ordered this I only knew that it was a new band from a former member of Un, a semi-forgotten Siltbreeze band from the 90s built around chaos and beauty dissolving into each other. Double Leopards of course became one of the flagship artists of the 2000s, and this, their second album, was a major starting point for what unfolded. With drones built from vocals and other unidentified sources, Double Leopards are masterful in generating long, horizontal soundscapes. The first side is made up of delicate rumblings, deep echoing drones, and smaller detailed accents. The source material is undeniably organic, and it's bathed in a warm bliss. It moves quickly despite being so minimal, and this makes side two's opener, 'Garments In The Midst Of My Vestures', almost jarring. This track is heavily effected with phasers, flangers, and/or ring modulation, and the overt space-case approach puts this into a more complex acoustic realm. It stays within a strict dynamic range though - a product of the home recording, I'd guess - and while it likes to roar, it never violates its boundaries. The final cut returns to the organic warmth of the first side but from a much more yearning, crying voice. And while human voices are probably a major part of the source material, it sounds magically human yet inhuman yet probably human, a double inversion for these double leopards.

Dodos - 'Visiter' (Wichita)

Dodos are from San Francisco I think and still at it; this is their second release, from 2007, and the only one I'm really familiar with. How that happened was somehow by accident - I overheard it at a bar or club and took a shine to one of the bouncier tunes, maybe 'Red and Purple' or 'Fools'. Not that I need to defend enjoying some indie-pop, but you have have me will notice my golden era was about ten years prior to this, so I'm just explaining how one artist broke through the glut of the Internet era to reach these ears. Visiter is a double LP collection that, on a fresh listen, holds up really well. This duo has a simple setup - acoustic guitar and drums - but builds strikingly complex songs with a huge amount of momentum, cause, let's face it, the drummer is shit-hot. He keeps a syncopated thing going throughout most of the toe-tappers. It's a lot of rimwork, and not much low-end, which speaks to these white ears. But the melodies are somehow clean and catchy, shining over the frantic guitar-strum and staccato beats. At two LP's, Visiter could almost wear out its welcome, but it never does, balancing the slower ballads amongst the energy ('Ashley' is quite moving, haunting really). There's not much beyond guitars and drums but the occasional intrusion of a xylophone or horn or even electric guitar adds a nice spice to the proceedings - on 'Winter', the horns really boost the nostalgic vibe. That thing about indie-pop that tends to annoy me - the overly cute, bland vocals - is only slightly slightly present, but it's saved by the music having some real energy and bite. Who would have ever thought indie pop would benefit from rhythm, rhythm, rhythm? Actually, it seems obvious in retrospect. Accessible and lively, 'Paint That Rust' even has a slight Hasil Adkins vibe to it.