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The Line Between Myth and Reality Has Always Been in Finland

  Antenna to Heaven  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:
  Brett Spaceman  

This may be the find of the week. Antennas to Heaven blend their post rock sensibilities with spoken-word vocals to create something both original yet satisfying. They may take their name from a GYBE album, but their music is far more accessible than that of the lauded Montreal collective. This feels like an album of songs rather than progressive orchestral themes.

The album is the work of lyricist Phil Hodgson and musician/singer David Smith. Although based in Newcastle, you'd be forgiven if your thoughts turned north to Glasgow. If ever a band typified a label composite, Antennas to Heaven embody the entire Chemikal Underground roster circa 1997 -the bitter monologue style of Arab Strap, the deadpan of The Delgados, the rarified Aerogramme plus of course there's no escaping the M-word again! Some of the music here is steeped in Mogwai. Big Trev being a good example.

The songs themselves are all little vignettes of their own. It's like listening to an audio novel by Iain Banks, voiced by a different gritty, regional accent with soundtrack by Explosions In The Sky. The stories range from humorous to grim, touching to philosophical. There should be something provocative for everyone here. This Bloody Tarkhovsky [sic] Film questions the self in a way the great director himself might have. It's Philip K. Dick without the aid of chemicals. A Good Boy is told from a dogs perspective, locked in a bathroom WITH the aid of chemicals. (He's drunk) Wry stuff this before becoming "a blur". Funnier with a plank tips a nod, I think, to Eric Sykes' The Plank? Here transporting a roll of carpet provides the mirth - all very Irvine Welsh as it slides from the whimsical to the bizarre. The mood is more Kafka during the unsettling transformation that is The Dicing.

So a vocal debt then to Arab Strap and more than a musical nod to the likes of Mogwai, a blend which could be likened to a less electronic Meanwhile Back in Communist Russia. However as musicians, I get the impression Antennas are running in an attempt to catch up with their own ideas. There's a willful amateurism at play. The CD arrives in a rather artisan, recycled paper sleeve. Hand designed and made, embossed with something like gold leaf filigree and then sealed with massive strips of masking tape. This mirrors the music, which is at once delicate and loving, yet somehow restrained by technicalities. Nigel Godrich I'm sure, wasn't behind the desk for this one.

The handmade angle works though. The packet is tactile and fun. The music too, is steeped in charm. However it's within the ideas department, the wit and observation on display, where their cup rather runneth over. These guys should be frog-marched to the nearest top studio and let loose without delay. The results might well be overwhelming.

The meaning of the title The Line Between Myth and Reality Has Always Been in Finland must remain secret. The only reality is - grab this bargain disc before it becomes a myth of its own.

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