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Cloudland Canyon / Lichens - Exterminating Angels

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Artist: Cloudland Canyon / Lichens

Album: Exterminating Angels

Label: Holy Mountain

Review date: Aug. 7, 2008

The prospect of Cloudland Canyon teaming up with Lichens’ drone-folk is a tantalizing one. Both have some stunning and emersive material. CC especially seem to be coming into their own, as witnessed on last year’s Lie In Light and the Mendia de Morte EP before that. Exterminating Angels is an EP-length release consisting of a single 31-minute track, “Babylon.”

As it is, “Babylon” spends most of its half-hour seething in a vaguely ominous mood, mostly consisting of guitar swells and the over-employed use of chimes (which at times too fully embodies its potential as a New Age signifier). Around the 10-minute mark, a propulsive Kraut-style electric guitar figure comes in and steals the attention, but it develops into nothing and no other elements do anything to compliment it.

The reneged potential of that passage is unfortunately illustrative of the collaboration as a whole. Most of “Babylon” deals in synth washes and the occasional electronic squiggle. The attempts at drama start to build with about nine minutes remaining when Simon Wojan and Kip Uhlhorn employ those ’70s synth arpeggiations they’ve shown a fondness for. But this section, too, fails to develop, and after a few minutes of relative sameness, begins to feel phoned-in. Noticeably absent from the recording are the minimal acoustic-folk figures that define most of Lichens’ compositions.

No doubt one’s reception of this record is largely shaped by what one expects from it. It’s faultless as a jam, but as an album statement (and as a commercial release) it fails to live up to the catharsis that both Lichens and CC’s previous output has shown them capable of.

By Brandon Kreitler

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