The North Sea - Exquisite Idols
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The North Sea
Exquisite Idols

After releasing a slew of CDRs of material under the name The North Sea, Brad Rose made his semi-official debut last year on the collaborative release with the UKs Rameses III on Night Of The Ankou. That release found the two teaming up for some long slabs of ambient drone music, and while drone music is still a major part of this new release, he also taps into some new areas on this newest release.

Also released on Type Records, Exquisite Idols hovers somewhere between drone, folk, free improv and a sort of shattered Americana. On the release, he mixes field recordings, guitars, occasional vocals, banjo, and loads of clanging percussion and hazy washes. The space it inhabits is somewhere between the scratchy under-the-bridge folk of a group like The Blithe Sons and the reverb-drenched Songs Of Green Pheasant. Most of all, though, it doesn't take the paths that you quite expect, playing out with a series of passages that feel organic and loose, as if written deep in the woods somewhere.

"Eternal Birds" opens the release with wheezes of chord organ playing out over shivering hand percussion and tense toy piano notes before the track dissolves into "Guiwenneth Of The Green Grass," where field recordings of singing birds mingle up against multiple layers of acoustic guitar, nearly-indecipherable vocals, and chimes and chord organ again. As the track falls away, it sounds like it could be coming from the neighbors porch down the street as chimes tinkle in through the decaying elements.

The long "We Conquered The Golden Age" stretches things out to eleven minutes and incorporates all of the aforementioned instrumentation while weaving through long sections that build upon one another into sort of a hazy fever-dream. At times, the percussive elements sound like they're going to burst into a full fledged stomp, but the track instead holds back and mainly keeps drifting in the ether. Basically, Exquisite Idols is an album where a feedback-drenched noise piece like "Cover Me With Knives" bumps up against an almost straightforward folk track like "Children Of The Ashes" and is then followed with an Eastern-influenced psych folk piece flavored with a heavy dose of sitar. It's definitely not all smooth sailing, but it's an occasionally rewarding album that fans of deconstructed, noisy folk should enjoy.

rating: 6.7510
Aaron Coleman 2007-06-21 20:48:19