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  Antennas to Heaven  


Release Date:
Reviewed by:
  Brett Spaceman  

One of the most delightfully, willfully odd bands around, Antennas will probably always find it tough to shake off the Arab Strap and Mogwai comparisons. The keyword there is "and". They sound like neither group in all honesty, but a bit like both bands at the same time. (Think R U Still In2 It). Previously, I have mentioned Meanwhile Back in Communist Russia as a closer relation. Why? Because the lyrics really take center stage. The music creates the canvas that allows these bizarre tales to unfold. (That said, the beautiful guitars on the instrumental My Robot Lets Me Watch The Cricket are a joy.)

Antennas To Heaven operate using the spoken word. These poems and prose are a mélange of the surreal, comic, and disturbing. There is something almost televisual about these stories. Not cinematic but rather BBC2/Radio Four. A series of audio Plays For Today, almost. I have little doubt lyricist Phil Hodgson could be a formidable dramatist within other media. Clearly a talented student of human behaviour, Hodgson blends these observations with more surreal, fanciful thinking so that the resultant vignette is like some bastard offspring of Mike Leigh and David Lynch.

But is Hermeneutics as good as the last album? Thankfully, yes it is. 27 minute problems shows the refinement. Ostensibly it's the same material, but given that little bit more polish, more edge, which lifts it away from the amateurish. There isn't a bad track on display. The "epics" (Gravy is Gravy, Domino Whore, and 0734) bookend this record. The lighter, more reflective pieces are positioned centrally. 0734 is arguably the best example of the power of Antennas. On it, they take a situation as mundane and ordinary as catching the morning train and twist it into something powerfully provocative and edgy. You find the drama playing out in your head a long time after the music has come to an end. In this respect, the words energize the music of Antennas To Heaven. There is definite synergy at work with these guys.

Like much of the post-rock genre, sustainability becomes the chief challenge. Theirs is an interesting and often brilliant technique, but to eek it out over 50 plus minutes requires a deal of variety and planning. Antennas pull it off again on their second LP, but I can't help feeling Hermeneutics is an enhancement of the debut. Progress certainly, but progression of competence, professionalism, and presentation rather than intellectual or compositional advancement. Then again, I rather claimed they had too many ideas on The Line Between Myth… Am I arguing in circles? Maybe I am. Antennas to heaven can do that to you.


In many more ways than one.

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Also on EvilSponge:
    Album: The Line Between Myth and Reality Has Always
                 Been in Finland


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