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Zalig Zijn De Armen Van Geest

At The Close Of Every Day
Zalig Zijn De Armen Van Geest
(Loose Thread Recordings)

Judging from the cover artwork, the album title (which translates to "blessed are the poor in spirit"), and the quote inside the liner notes of 'Death is the cold breeze in my neck,' one might expect At The Close Of Every Day to create music that is from the furthest inner dark reaches of the psyche. Created by the multi-instrumentalist duo of Axel Kabboord and Minco Eggersman, this debut album is one of the better musical releases I've heard come out of the Netherlands in some time now.

While much of their music could probably be placed into a 'slow core' category alongside artists such as Arab Strap, Low, there's a lightness in the music that definitely keeps it from being too much on the darkside. While the first couple tracks on the release are content to move along with quiet guitars through misty spaces, "Hallways" breathes a life into the album that's unmistakable. Sleepy, heavily-accented vocals by Eggersman drift nicely over a bed of organs, intertwining guitars, and a propulsive but never overbearing rhythm. It's slightly sleepy pop (somewhat similar to what you'd expect from Badly Drawn Boy), and quite good.

From there, the group goes back into a more languid pace, but there's always a hint of the sun ready to break through the clouds overhead. The aptly titled "Rain Or Shine" moves at a funeral march pace, but brightens with warm guitars ever-so-slightly during the chorus and especially during a lovely ending. "Dealing With Hatred" again breaks up the slower pace of the album with a more pronounced pulse before things wind down for some seriously lovely closing tracks. The album closer of "Lower World" moves in almost slow-motion with strummed guitars, subdued organs, and more weary-sounding vocals. It sounds like it could fall apart at any moment, and finally does before fading to silence. While the group isn't doing anything that hasn't been done before, they have a keen sense of melody and the album moves nicely without either dragging too much or feeling like track styles are too varied. If you like any of the aforementioned artists, you'd probably find plenty to like here.

Rating: 7.25