Still Point Of Turning
Relay - Still Point Of Turning
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Relay
Still Point Of Turning

One could make an argument that the whole neo-shoegazer genre is quite possibly one of the most flooded ones out there next to ambient electronic music and post rock. Grunge had its heyday and indie rock has been steady for the past couple decades, but the absolute explosion in the other three aforementioned genres is interesting and somewhat scary to behold. The pet project of musician and studio engineer Jeff Zeigler, Relay is yet another in a long line of synth-laced, fuzzy-guitar dreampop, but armed with more than a handfull of killer hooks and stellar production, Still Point Of Turning is a release that has something new going for it despite the crowded playing field.

One of the best things about the group is that they keep things lean for the most part. Eleven songs clock in at under forty minutes in running length and instead of trying to coast on textures alone, their tracks overflow with catchy melodies, vocal harmonies, and even crisp rhythms. "New Domestic Landscape" opens the disc and it's a perfect example as chugging bass and drums get overlayed with warm layers of synth, multi-part vocal harmonies, and alternately jangling and fuzzy guitars. "Driver" is even better, layering in multi-part synth melodies over more breathy vocals and serviceable guitars and backing beats. There's a gorgeous bridge in the middle of the song that makes you wish it actually went on longer than the tidy four minute running length.

As with a lot of bands doing this sort of thing, the actual lyrics aren't really there to be understood. The studio magic mentioned above gives the entire album a lush feel, and on tracks like the soaring "Season (Start)," the subtle synths and filtered, cascading guitar work feel like they were poured together in a chemists lab, but somehow have just enough edge that the group never moves into schmaltzy territory.

The latter one-third of the release takes a couple short diversions (most notably the more ambient instrumental of "Prill" and the needless minute-long noodle of "Pre"), but also contains some of the better tracks on the disc as "Crooked Line" rushes forth with bristling drumming and some sheared-edge synth sounds that buzz a bit on the harsh side while "Ode To Guesswork" moves into slightly darker territory, sounding something like Interpol if they dropped one of their guitarists and replaced him with a keyboardist. While Still Point Of Turning may not quite be up there with the classics in the genre, it's easily one of the best I've heard come down the pipe in some time. Blast this and let your hair swing in your eyes.

rating: 7.7510
Aaron Coleman 2006-09-21 20:33:00