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Cast From the Platform
Styles: pseudo-ambient, real deal dream pop/shoegaze
Others: Mahogany, Stars of the Lid, Aarktica, Cocteau Twins
What Iíll try to do for you here is explain how this record (and to some degree Auburn Lullís debut) stands apart from the above mentioned artists. Itís not easy, since the group trades in a very familiar sort of billowing, sunkissed guazyness. After digesting Cast From the Platform, their second album, Iím convinced that this familiarity is colored by influence but sent home by unfailingly absorbing beauty.
Some might call the music on Cast From the Platform a bit stark and moody, but I believe this is often what saves Auburn Lull (kind of like Low) from nestling into some safe, adult-contempo niche. More discerning ears will find that Auburn Lullís rich tapestry is as dangerously hypnotic and transporting as it is soothing. While the loping percussive march of the opening number takes me to a hazy, Cocteau Twins sort of place, the understated, free-floating guitar work and smooth, elliptical harmonic cadences make you feel as though you are in new territory. The dark, propulsive, "Season of False Starts" brings to mind Labradford or Aarktica, but succeeds in being its own "Long Distance Drunk" kind of song-puzzle with its syrupy rhythms and mantra-like progression. The song actually ends on the gorgeous ephemeral note that is surely one of the groupís strengths. You might have heard these sounds before, but not put together quite so well.
Iíd use the term ambient restrictively when it comes to Auburn Lull, yet they do their own brand of what Stars of the Lid do with seriously thick stretches of heady atmosphere. The lead singerís vocals, admittedly, are nothing so extraordinary (think Neil Halstead and youíre a few bottles of Nyquil from being there). But that shouldnít deter you any. If you can wrap your head around it, this soup will sustain and refresh you as much as itíll relax. While there is no shortage of artists that can do this for a listener, the Lull retain the rare ability to create some of the most uncannily singular lullabies Iíve heard since, well, the last Auburn Lull record. Beat aficionados who felt threatened by the persistent lack of percussion on Alone I Admire should feel a little more grounded.
Bottom line: Cast From the Platform is a fantastic album in the tradition of all the significant and puzzling guitar drone confections of the past twenty to thirty years and should definitely not be missed.