Anjou :: Anjou (Kranky)

An album stark and austere but dynamic, its elements shift like ice floes; colliding, sinking, and smashing into pieces, directed by some mysterious but entirely captivating design.

The self-titled Anjou marks the first time Mark Nelson and Robert Donne have worked together since the excellent Fixed: Content by Labradford; here they are joined by Steven Hess for an album with a minimal set-up (guitar, bass, drums, synth) but a maximal output.

Opening with the warm crackling fuzz, descending lines, and echoing space of “Lamptest,” the trio go on to create a slowly churning morass of buzz, burnished bass and sighing metal. It feels like being inside something slowly baking, an atmosphere oppressive and close. Percussive elements flicker at the peripheries, drums part the veil of noise on “Sighting” and “Readings” but serve only to better highlight the album’s mighty pulsing stasis. “Anjou” glowers and sits, hunched and grumbling, its guitars roaring and scraping. The tone softens with “Specimen Question,” a gentler drifting hum like a curtain wafting in a breeze, the ubiquitous crackle spreading mold upon its pristine surface.

Anjou is almost tactile in its evocation of texture; sonics made physically manifest: burbling water, rusted metal, curtains of coarse fabric carried on pufts of air. A bass-filled cauldron of drone and hazy head-filling rumbling. An album stark and austere but dynamic, its elements shift like ice floes; colliding, sinking, and smashing into pieces, directed by some mysterious but entirely captivating design.

Anjou is available on Kranky.

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