Thursday, March 17, 2011

Grails - Deep Politics (Temporary Residence, 2011)

In Alexander Sokurov's film Russian Ark, we're taken on a magical journey through 300 years of Russian history through the paintings in the Hermitage by one 90 minute camera shot. When listening to Deep Politics I feel like Grails are taking me on a seven continent geographic exploration in a 50 minute album. Amidst the journey we're plunged into the conflicts of various slasher flicks, heist films and spaghetti westerns. Grails have openly cited the influences of Ennio Morricone, Hugo Montenegro, Piero Piccioni, Alan Hawkshaw, and Basil Kirchen. Here they are all represented, resulting in the band's magnum opus.

Seattle-based violinist and composer Timba Harris (Secret Chiefs 3 / Master Musicians of Bukkake) joins the band for this recording, resulting in the best decision in their decade long history. Harris adds a cut and paste sampling technique which uniquely expands the band's seemingly infinite horizons. He also has quite a hand in making this their first utterly cohesive work.

'Future Primitive' slowly opens the gate of a mysterious land. Middle Eastern strings create massive tension and distorted guitar move the piece toward its brilliant climax. 'All the Colors of the Dark' builds an enormous wall of sound, and then falls into a haunting, mid-tempo melody. Hip-hop beats are used in 'Corridors of Power'. 'Daughters of Bilitis' is sculpted around a somber Rhodes with the persistent violins. On the title track, minor key piano, heavy drums and a series of fierce guitar riffs are skillfully presented in what is the album's gorgeous compositional masterpiece and most powerful arrangement.

The album rounds out with the very Prog 'Almost Grew My Hair', which allows Riles to strut his 12-string stuff, 'I Led Three Lives" slowly unleashes a clash of discordant synths and acid-drenched guitars.

'Deep Snow' closes out the album in a subdued, almost peaceful manner. And, much like the end of Doomsayer's Holiday we're given a sedative that slowly eases us into the idea that the end is nigh. Fear is the mind killer. Just accept our fate.

Get the Beautiful End

Or: Deep Politics - Grails

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