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Double Life Of Veronique

The Double Life Of Veronique
Avec Un Pessimisme Lucide
(Nameless Records)

Are you a fan of guitar drone music? Are you a fan of minimal music? If so, step right up and keep reading, because this debut release by Nameless Records is just for you. With 5 tracks that stretch out over the course of 50 minutes, this is a rhythmless piece of ebbing, flowing, textural work that would probably drive most listeners mad. The group has opened for Do Make Say Think and Bardo Pond, but really doesn't hold anything in common with either group, except for the fact that they manage to coax some interesting sounds out of their instruments.

The group is actually mainly the musical vision of one David Bennett. On the release, the bookend tracks are pieces that were put together for four, bowed guitars, while the middle three pieces are performed solo on one. Even at that, though, don't expect hummable melodies or anything like that. All of the tracks on the album take lots of time to develop, and although they hold some things in common with groups like Windy And Carl or earlier work by Labradford, The Double Life Of Veronique isn't afraid to take things and push them one step further.

Apparently, the earliest influences on the sound of the group were non-instrumental ones, and that's easy to hear when listening to the tracks. The disc opens up with "MRI" and super subtle shifts of sound in the layering of the four bowed guitars. At first, they are simply combined to sound like some approaching, foreboding swarm, but eventually different layers peel back and waver ever so slightly. The second track "Cochineal" starts out with a touch of staticy electronic noise (courtesy of a walkman motor), before it too drifts into a singular wash of sound. "Citronella" also adds some very slight other elements (more electronic pings at the beginning of the track) that keep the track from being simply one element. The album closer of "MRII" actually brings some of the lowest tones on the entire recording, with one guitar that rumbles underneath and gives the piece sort of a feel that sounds like it could have come from Gavin Bryars Raising The Titanic.

In sort of a strange twist, the music itself is so repetitive that it begs to be listened to as a background mood and texture, yet the changes within the music are so subtle that you're really forced to pay attention if you want to hear them. Not only that, but like much minimal music, outside noises become part of the pieces (I'm specifically reminded of the liner notes in Coils Time Machines release that states "Artifacts generated by your listening environment are an intrinsic part of the experience."). At any rate, this is one of the most stripped-down and minimal pieces I've heard in a long time. The sounds that the group creates aren't heavy on the noise side, they're just sort of a fuzzy sonic paintbrush that paints in wide, wide strokes. Only for major drone-fiends.

Rating: 5.5