The solo musical project of visual artist James Crane, The Lower Third blends dark electro with ethereal, new wave, experimental, and progressive tendencies. Largely instrumental, what's found here is a blend of retro and modern, from 70s-esque ambient analog synth pieces (the opening "Back from Black", almost recalling Bowie's "Crystal Japan") to rhythmic new wave/electro dirges (the shuffling, ever-evolving rhythms and brooding synths of the six-and-a-half-minute standout "Forward and So"). Mainly electronic, yet often sounding warm and organic rather than cold and mechanical, The Lower Third's self-titled debut is both interesting and relatively unique.
Of the discs other tracks, the most prominent are the sinister "Echoes", the slightly more standard moody goth fare and more organic sampled instrumentation of "Psychosychosis", and the simple and repetitive melodic content but varied production of the upbeat, straightforward dance number, "Laying Track". Certain elements, like the slightly awkward and sometimes semi-unintelligible deep spoken vocals of the disc's only non-instrumental, "Whispers", suggest that Crane is still finding his musical voice. However, most of what you'll find here is rather strong and well composed and produced with a fair amount of diversity; the largely percussive "Grand Retreat", its underplayed synths slowly bubbling to the surface, countering the progressive rock-oriented processed synthetic guitar solos of "Full Force", for example.
As a whole, The Lower Third's self-titled debut is a rhythmically interesting and ultimately compelling collection of dark, intricate electro-ethereal soundscapes. While the somewhat large stylistic scope found here makes it a bit hard to classify, it's a fairly solid and creative outing that deserves a listen.
The Lower Third on Myspace: www.myspace.com/thelowerthird
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