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(Thrill Jockey)

Although I haven't heard the first work from the group, I did enjoy Radian's last album Rec.Extern. Many found it a bit too clinical and austere, but that's simply the sound of the group. Although they sampled industrial sonics like elevators and screeching gears and turned it into music, their sound was much more subdued than one might expect. Even though they don't completely break free from that mold, Juxtaposition is a clear step forward from a young group who has a clear hold on how they want to mold texture and melody to their will.

I'll be honest in saying that the first time I listened to Juxtaposition, it didn't do too much for me. Of course, it didn't help that the environment was work and that real life actual construction was going on around me. At any rate, Juxtaposition is an album meant to be heard alone, because like the previous work by the group (and side projects of the group, like Ballroom by Trapist), the changes mostly come in subtle ways. Mixing tons of micro-sampled sounds with some actual instrumentation (drums, bass), the group takes the term "clinical" to new heights, yet this newest effort still sounds more loose than their last effort.

"Shift" opens the disc and like many of their tracks, you'll probably miss the best part if you don't have a little patience. After a long build of trippy stopgaps and subtle hisses and whirs, the track suddenly pops into focus as live drums pop every little refractive bit out into an ending that's both beautiful and arms-length at the same time. It's tense and very nearly annoying, but works like a charm if you give it the chance. On "Vertigo," the group meanders a bit more and toys with serious minimalism as individual notes and instruments ping out alone in almost solos while "Rapid Eye Movement" sounds like a bastard-child noise version of Tortoise before a razor-sharp rhythm comes into focus at the end of the track and wraps around the gauzy noise like a spring before the whole thing uncorks.

"Transistor" keeps the heavier rhythms rumbling, but the group breaks things down and takes things in much more sparse directions during the middle section of the album. "Transistor" is content to let single vibraphone notes ring out over soft noise while "Ontario" simply lets the white haze overtake everything. The remainder of the album is a mixture of everything that has come before, as grooves sometimes take the lead while at other times a dense wash of noise is the focus. The long closer "Nord" is one of the only tracks that keeps both in check, swirling through over 8 minutes of soft feedback loops and barely-there percussion. It's a nice comedown from an album that seems to play heavily on creating tension, and puts a soft cap on an excellent album from a group of young musicians who aren't afraid of pushing some musical boundaries.

Rating: 7.5