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Zelienople - His/Hers

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Artist: Zelienople

Album: His/Hers

Label: Type

Review date: Aug. 7, 2007

Some records reward close attention while others are ruined by it. His/Hers establishes its own blurry zone somewhere between those poles. With its reverb-bathed guitars and melodies that trickle like a mountain stream late in the dry season, it’s an easy record to leave running on repeat while you do something else. But give it a closer listen and things grow more ambiguous.

It does reward the examining ear with complex sonorities and an impressive illusion of space; Mike Weis's tumbling drum assault on "Moss Man" seems to come from somewhere behind the stuttering distorto-guitar, land at its feet, then keep right on falling towards you, getting bigger and bigger. But even though the playing sounds aggressive, the closer you scrutinize it, the harder it is to grasp. The next song, “Parts Are Lost,” could have turned out like a million other man-with-guitar attempts to channel Morricone episodes, except that it succeeds by failing. Instead of nailing the flourishes that would make it cohere and slot into that pigeonhole, guitarists Matt Christensen and Brian Harding’s latticework of licks blur in a smudged mirror of echo; Christensen’s voice floats in and out, impossible to bring into focus.

Despite the rock instrumentation and methodology — Zelienople is essentially two guitarists and one drummer playing songs — the record ends up satisfying Eno’s dictum that ambient recordings be as interesting as they are ignorable.

By Bill Meyer

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