The debut album by Tanakh (Villa Claustrophobia) was one of those discs that pretty much came out of nowhere and knocked my socks off. A unique combination of middle eastern music and folk music, it was an epic, lush disc that caught many people off guard in a good way. Opening statements like that in music are hard to get around, simply because everything that comes out afterwards will inevitably be compared to it. Instead of changing styles or doing anything too drastic, though, Tanakh has done a commendable job of simply creating a great second album, and while it doesn't quite hit like the intoxicating debut, it has a great deal of good things going for it.
While many of the more worldly elements from the last release are absent, the group has added many other subtle sonic touches to keep things interesting. "November Tree" starts things off on just the right foot, a slow-shuffling track that mixes string instrumentation with lazy guitars and the velvet voice of Jesse Poe (who moves himself up my list of current favorite male vocalists with this effort) singing beautiful harmonies with Michele Poulos. Whereas the last album seemed to envelop more often than not, Dieu Deuil is more intent on letting everything breath a little more. Little touches like bells and quiet instrumental manipulations drift in and out of tracks, making for a deep listening environment that definitely isn't crowded.
"Exegesis" blends in a touch of salsa with it's swaying rhythm and plucked guitar, while "Instrumental" is just what the title states, a graceful, lush instrumental track that feels like it could have been pulled from an old 70's Tim Buckley record and updated for the modern age with some interesting instrumental choices. Poe even returns to a more traditional song with "Lady Eucharist," a slowly-paced track that drags out a little bit too long.
With song lengths that almost all clock in at 6 minutes or longer, this 8 track release almost always takes its time in getting places. The centerpiece of "The Lord Is In This Place...How Dreadful Is This Place" picks things up nicely about halfway through, again bringing in eastern influences and making for one of the more ramshackle moments on the release. "Lock The Door When You Leave" takes a little bit of everything that the group does so well and pulls it into an 8-minute closer that starts out with warm vocals and quiet instrumentation before rocking out in a middle section and finally spiraling towards a somewhat dizzying end. Like many follow-up releases, this one may have been a little doomed by following such a standout debut, but chances are you'll still find much to enjoy here.