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While some bands have pushed themselves closer to mainstream of pop territory with each release, Chicago's Zelienople is seeminly moving in the opposite direction with each step they take. Their debut album Pajama Avenue was sort of a narcotic pop album that bubbled just underneath the surface, but their follow-up Sleeper Coach drifted into the woods more, obscuring the soft keyboards and delicate instrumentation with washes of drones.

Although it's not a major release (it's actually limited to around 100 copies), Ink is yet another step for the band in terms of exploring their experimental side. For the release (which was recorded live with no overdubs over the course of two days), the group constructed many of their own instruments, using boxes with springs or wire for percussion and tuning suspension cable for deep humming tones while using the clonk of empty artillery shells to send a shock through the reverberation.

The last word in the above statement is the key word in this release, as it sounds like Ink was recorded in an empty silo or at least a very, very large room with walls that didn't have any sound dampening. After opening with a droning remake of "It's Still Hard To Steal Cars," the group springboards into much more terse sounds, with the title track sounding like the moaning of deep sea whales before it crashes into a wall with a harsh racket. In fact, there are several times on the release when the group seems to get a little carried away with making sheer noise, and while it makes for a creepy atmosphere, the sheer scrapiness of sonics will probably only appeal to more serious drone/noise fans.

While the homemade instruments approach is novel, the group is still at their best when they let the reverb-soaked instrumentation of guitars and organs come drifting through the mist of drone. Both "The Nod Squad" and "Pace Car" shine (especially the latter) as the group lets the weird noises blend in more subtlely while sustaining warm chords and melodies on real instruments. At over forty-five minutes, it's a good batch of music from the group, but as mentioned above, it's definitely not going to appeal to everyone (even fans of their more droney previous album).

Rating: 6