Molasses - Trilogie: Toil And Peaceful Life
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Molasses
Trilogie: Toil And Peaceful Life
(Fancy)

Once you've picked up this release and looked over the package design and listened to the entire recording, there are one of three categories that you'll probably fall into. One is that you find the packaging simply amazing, but with only 37 minutes of actual music (and almost 10 minutes of that field recordings), you feel like things were done up on purpose so you didn't feel bad spending your money on just that. On the other side of the coin, you may think that the music is exquisite, and that the packaging on the release is only frosting on the cake (so to speak). With printing on delicate, transparent paper, a tri-fold inner slipcase, embossings, and small duotone portraits, this is one release that really does feel like a work of art.

Of course, I failed above to mention the third category that you could fall into, which is somewhere in-between the above mentioned ones. This is one in which you're impressed with the packaging, but feel like there's something slightly lacking in the actual music portion. Like all middle-categories go, it's probably the most difficult one to be a part of. I'm not really bored enough to give the release a bad rating, yet I'm not excited enough to go out and recommend it to everyone I know.

I am, however, ready to recommend it to a certain group of people, recommend it highly. Although their are actually 4 tracks on the release, there are three real songs on the disc (as the title suggests), and one of these is a reworking of the old standard "Amazing Grace." The disc starts out with an almost seven minute field recording of chapel bells ringing, and although it runs a tad long, it sets the mood for things to come. The true opening track of the disc is "Saint Catherine (Idiot's Waltz)," and it's here that you get the first introduction to the group. Singer Scott Chernoff sings each syllable as if it were labor-intensive, while the music itself is minimal, with acoustic guitar, some strings, and even a touch of theremin floating through the quiet (which is just a strong part of the track at moments).

"Lisa's Waltz (Running Away From Home)" is another lovely, slow track, which begins with a field recording of a subway and recalls Chernoffs emigration from California to Canada. Building to something slightly louder than the previous track, it begins with only vocals and guitar before reaching something hazy and stirring before ending with a quiet recording of Chernoffs aunt singing an old Russian hymn. Although the closing track of "Amazing Grace" is one that almost everyone has heard, this version is something alltogether new and fits perfectly on the disc. With an large ensemble of musicians, it's stretched to almost 15 minutes and feels like the epic that it was meant to be, having been penned by a former slaveship captain.

Although it's fewer songs, this release is a big step up for Molasses from their first album You'll Never Be Well No More. Stylistically, that album mainly covered the group that is touched on in the first track of Trilogie, but this release just expands on things and goes several more interesting places. Although Chernoffs voice will take some getting used to for some, it's world-wearing feel ties in perfectly with the lyrics, music, and themes of the disc. If I had to slide it into a genre somewhere, I'd say it was experimental folk noir with found sound, but that doesn't even do a very good job of covering things. If you feel like you've been beat down by the world, yet need a light at the end of the tunnel, this is for you.

rating: 7.2510
Aaron Coleman 2003-06-19 00:00:00