Slaves


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Ocean On Ocean (2010), 7/10
Grey Angel (2011), 6/10
Spirits Of The Sun (2012), 7.5/10
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The Slaves, the Oregon-based duo of Barbara Kinzle and Birch Cooper, crafted slow-motion electronic droning ambient psychedelic music on Ocean On Ocean (Debacle, 2010 - Helen Scarsdale, 2012), a collection of lengthly repetitive compositions. Seventeen (8:01) sounds like a glitchy version of Klaus Schulze's cosmic music mixed with Throbbing Gristle's industrial nightmares and the Grateful Dead's Dark Star, with the keyboards simulating an imposing pipe organ and an agonizing guitar and Kinzle's invocation evoking the effects of an acid trip. The music flows gentle and humble, uninterested in real counterpoint. By comparison, the mournful organ drones and subterranean female laments of Shadows (8:06) raise a moribund, cadaveric requiem that is eventually pierced by a massive alien distortion. The tender miasma of Dokude (10:35) is the most cryptic piece, and also the least emotional, with the vocals buried into a sea of dissonance.
It may take a while but some of the pieces turn into almost regular songs. The circular Sweet High (6:26) weaves together poppy slo-core vocals and noisy synth drones in a crescendo of hypnosis. I'm in Heaven (6:17), a lied for spaced out vocalists, sounds like a duet between Nico in the otherworld and David Crosby in a mental asylum. The method of interlocking keyboard drones and hovering vocals yields one of the sweetest, most touching lullabies ever Wild Ride (10:50), as if Robert Wyatt fronted My Bloody Valentine in a particularly happy day of his life.

Despite the nine-minute Ancestors and the seven-minute Angel, Grey Angel (Paradigms, 2011), actually recorded before Ocean, is an inferior collection of icy and funereal psalms that straddle the border between new-age music and shoegaze-pop.

The mini-album Spirits Of The Sun (Digitalis, 2012), instead, climbs new artistic heights: the undulating sacred hymn for hovering wordless vocals 111, progressively drowned into a harsh doom-infected distortion, the catalectic cosmic journey of the ten-minute River, and especially the slow sleepy oceanic waves of the twelve-minute Born Into Light, their most purely "ambient" composition yet. This time the influence of Brian Eno prevails over their original cosmic-psychedelic project.

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(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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