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Autistic Daughters - Uneasy Flowers

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Artist: Autistic Daughters

Album: Uneasy Flowers

Label: Kranky

Review date: Feb. 27, 2008

It’s been three and a half years since we last heard from the Autistic Daughters. The trio of Dean Roberts, Martin Brandlmayr (Radian) and Werner Dafeldecker (Polwechsel) released Jealousy and Diamond back in 2004 to the glee of post-rock fans everywhere. Uneasy Flowers complicates the matter slightly, with the group moving beyond Brandlmayer’s safety zone and into that eerie world betwixt composition and improvisation.

Dean Roberts’ vocals are more extraverted this time around, rising from whispered insinuations to angst-ridden but youthfully experienced pleadings and exhortations. (I leave his recurrent musings of Rehana – some sort of lyte-motivic character appearing in various reincarnations – for those of a metaphysical bent to unravel.) His guitar harmonies dream and shred their way through drone and distortion, washing granite percussives and other nameless squibs of sound into continually morphing formations.

Brandlmayr’s kit work remains the bedrock for this indeterminate music, so unique is his approach to sound, silence and everything in-between. Knocks, thumps and decaying snare-drum cracks stick up like islands and rickashe in the title track, as droney loops lap at the structure’s foundation. His brushwork glides like worn sandpaper over the opening of “Liquid and Starch,” but he is perfectly content to relax into post-rock bliss at the tune’s proper commencement.

Dafeldecker offers up ghost-tones and spare accompaniment throughout, his contributions, perfecting the evolving aesthetic crafted so cleverly here. Shades of the avant-garde underlie – but never overshadow – the rock-inflected songcraft; jump-cut juxtaposition spices up the static flow that defined the trio’s first album. In that light, it seems perfectly natural when the charmingly stunted rest-room acoustic that kicks off “Rehana’s Theme” is suddenly replaced by more open space.

The Necks’ Chris Abrahams and Brandlmayr’s Erstwhile collaborator Martin Siewert add their trademark piano and guitar musings to this well-sculpted but spacious album, and my only complaint lies in its brevity. I understand the need for editing, but many of the group’s ideas could have been developed, or even simply repeated, allowing each element to sink in over a longer period. There is certainly no lack of detail, and frankly, I’d have liked more time to digest it all.

All grumbling aside, this is a fine statement from veteran musicians on the fringes of that no-man’s land between song and sound.

By Marc Medwin

Other Reviews of Autistic Daughters

Jealousy and Diamonds

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