I've been following the work of Dean Roberts for some time now, and he's been refining his sound a little bit with each release, ratcheting up the slow-burning intensity while at the same time moving into a more song-based realm that doesn't betray his fractured rock foundation. Both under his own name and now as a member of Autistic Daughters, he's made it a habit of creating a real tension in his music, walking a tightrope between fatal collapse and raucous explosion without ever really needing to resort to either.
Uneasy Flowers is the newest release from the group, and I'm glad that the adjective "uneasy" was used in the title because it was going to show up in my description of the album anyway. Perhaps more than any other album I've heard since the excellent self-titled release from The For Carnation, this seven-song effort is an album that just keeps creeping up on your until you don't quite understand why you're going back to it so often. Joined by Werner Dafeldecker (double bass, electric guitars) and Martin Brandlmayr (drums, vibraphone, computer processing), the trio weaves through seven songs in thirty-six minutes, joined occasionally by Chris Abrahams (The Necks) on piano while gradually strength throughout.
The computer processing employed on the album is subtle, and used to deconstruct the actual instrumentation rather than change its sound entirely. Album-titled "Uneasy Flowers" is a perfect example, as distinct drum hits jitter and stutter in places while ragged guitar drones heave and an upright bass barely keeps time. The haunted vocals of Roberts seem perfectly in line, and the song slowly coalesces into a bit of partial fireworks by the end. "Gin Over Sour Milk" is easily the most dynamic song on the entire album, moving with a sort of broken jazz shuffle before being split apart in places with searing shards of filtered guitar.
"The Richest Woman In The World" is more impressionistic and subdued, as dark groans of guitar, light piano brushwork from Abrahams, and quiet processed drones all slide together as Roberts again adds his world-weary vocals. At just over six minutes, "Hotel Exeter Dining Room" is the perfect album closer, arcing upward for about two-thirds the running length with layered, rich instrumentation that finds the group pouring it all out before breaking down and going their separate ways. A fairly short album, Uneasy Flowers is nonetheless very engrossing, with powerful moments that don't rely on blatant showy-ness. This is disquieting rock music for dark, dark nights.