Although the group is driven by three main composers (who contribute everything from laptop to tibetan bowls and saxophone), Strings Of Consciousness is one of those sprawling collectives where well over a dozen members have added some bits here and there. The resulting tracks are dense mixtures of acoustic instrumentation and digital filtering, swaying and unfolding in ways that blend together jazz, modern classical and post rock. Their debut release Our Moon Is Full arrived last year, and now they're back quickly with Fantomastique Acoustica, a release that contains four new songs and a huge batch of remixes from some fairly big names.
The four originals arrive first and are mixed in quality and execution. "Mossgarden" burns slowly at first with some amazing string layering and filtering but blows things out with huge swaths of guitars and vibes that drive it into more standard sounding territory, while "Forest Os Spades" and "Crest & Watersheds" swerve through the same sort of lush, jazz-infected grounds that groups like Kammerflimmer Kollektief haunt.
And speaking of that group, they're just one of many who take songs from Strings Of Consciousness and rework them. Without having heard most of the originals, it's hard to say who does the best jobs here (especially considering there are no track titles). Given the overall vibe of the group and the surprisingly hands-off treatment by a lot of the artists involved, though, to my ears it's the ones (like Leafcutter John and Sutekh) who take the group outside their comfort zone the most that also succeed in livening up the album. Even artists who one might thing would break down the sound even more (like Mira Calix, Marsen Jules, and Scanner) generally keep the smooth vibe intact, which makes for a slightly more smooth listen, but not always an interesting one. With some standout moments and some that are fairly safe, Fantomastique Acoustica doesn't quite prick the ears enough.