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  Villa Claustrophobia  
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EvilSponge is for real. That is to say, (currently in it's 3rd year, thank you very much) is at a point where people are actually sending us Promo Copies of albums to listen to. I kid you not.

It's a wierd feeling going to the mailbox, opening it up, and seeing a package, with the Alien8 Recordings logo stamped onto it, just sitting there. The fact that promos tend to come with "press sheets" full of information also conflicts with my own personal habit of avoiding all criticism/commentary about an album until i have given it at least one listen myself. But .... what are ya gonna do. It's a "Promo Copy". Let me say that again, because the words really are almost magical: Promo Copy.

So Villa Claustrophobia is a Promo that came in lovely packaging. In fact, my limited experience with Alien8 Recordings has indicated that they spend a lot of time on crafting interesting and lovely cardboard packaging for their releases. Kind of like Constellation does. Heck, maybe it's a Canadian Thing. I dunno, but this is really a lovely album to look at.

However, i had never heard of Tanakh. So i sat down to read the "press sheet" as i put the album in the CD player.

Villa Claustrophobia starts with a foreign voice singing. It could almost be Islamic music. Reading the press sheet, this is the voice of Nirmal Bajekal, who also sings in Ravi Shankar's band. "Ah, so this is to be 'world music'," i think. I can live with that -- especially seeing as there is some amazing drone acompanied by subtle percussion going on along with the voice.

So i sit down on the couch to read the press sheet and listen. It turns out that Tanakh is the recording project of Jesse Poe, who has done work with dronesters Pelt. I have a Pelt album -- amazing stuff. Assisting Mr. Poe on this disc are such luminaries as David Lowry, Mick Turner, and Ned Oldham.

I pause in my reading to reflect on how odd it is that those three joined in to make this "world music", when suddenly, the Indian vocaled drone fades out. Instead of a new drone starting up, an acoustic guitar strums in, to be joined by tremoloed electric guitar, eerie keyboards, and voice. Suddenly, rather than "world music" this is dark dark type of music. And good "dark" at that, with guitars prominant over the voice, and violin and keys creating a melancholy backing.

It's a strange juxtaposition, this "world music drone" into "dark" transition. And yet, it really works. I think that the minor chords and the slow pace of the songs helps to convey a connection between the two styles quite nicely.

And the blending is done very well. Songs flow into one another seamlessly, one drone fading out to be picked up by a solo instrument. It's quite nice and peaceful. In fact, i think that the unifying element between the songs is their trance-inducing state. This is good music to just lose yourself in. The songs waver and meander.... Anyway, i find it to be good music to shut the brain off to.

Moving right along, the next track on the disk, and indeed all of the remaining songs, combine these two musical styles. The third track, Devil's Interval, starts with acoustic guitar strumming lightly and almost quietly. To this are added the Indian vocals, violin, drums, keyboards, and, well, a whole mess of stuff, until the song builds into a powerful swirling of sound. This is a really well done tune that might very well be my favorite on the album.

The rest of the album pretty much continues in this vein, and it's all good. I could sit here and describe all of the songs to you, but what's the point? If what i have already described sounds at all interesting to you -- go out and track down a copy of this. It's really damned cool.

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