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Antimatter - Our Lady of the Skies

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Artist: Antimatter

Album: Our Lady of the Skies

Label: Asphodel

Review date: Nov. 12, 2005

Antimatter's second album, Our Lady of the Skies, is a tricky one. While some of its accompanying literature mentions Tangerine Dream, and there are elements of that synth-heavy sound here, the use of old tone generators and guitar in conjunction with a willingness to experiment sometimes takes Antimatter into much more abstract territory.

San Francisco's Xopher Davidson, who is Antimatter, enlists friends like Mic Gendreau (Crawling with Tarts, Rrope) and Joe Goldring (Enablers, Touched by a Janitor), but this mostly seems to be a solo effort, concentrating primarily on antique electronics with additional layers of guitar.

As if often the case with synth-heavy works, these songs stretch out. Nearly all are over five minutes in length, and many are closer to the eight-minute mark. Depending on your endurance, you may well find that events don't move as quickly as you'd wish. On the other hand, some of the longer tracks are less single-minded visions than series of brief ideas stitched together into a longer whole. The well-named "random miss fire," for example, is an ode to short attention spans which moves from an opening heavy noise buzz to a wide vista of echoing guitar notes, clanging metallics, and rough synth tones before morphing further.

Overall, some additional editing could have pared these songs down into more effective, focused pieces. The album as a whole is very long, and likely more than anyone will want in a sitting. Perhaps that's par for the course these days, but nonetheless, forty-five minutes of razor-clean pieces with no loose strings is always preferable to seventy-five minutes burdened with excess.

For example, "nuvistor" begins with an initial electronic drone, then after three minutes busts into a heavier combination of Godspeed-style drama and DJ Spookified dub atmospherics, with a strong bassline and solid drums. It's a very nice segment, but the introductory three minute drone doesn't set it up.

On the flip side, there's "box cutter," which begins with a nice crunchy mechanical rhythm and dense, melodic guitar propulsion. After a few minutes, as if unsure where that might go, the song gives way to chirping electronics and reverberating static, which seems disconnected from the song's first section.

Our Lady of the Skies is filled with interesting sounds, intriguing noises, and well-placed guitar work. The composition of the songs is where Davidson needs to concentrate now, to ensure that there's both a more cohesive focus and a thread running through them that the listener can follow, and feel that they're being taken someplace. There's still quite a lot on this album to reward, but there could be less that means even more.

By Mason Jones

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