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Reviews CD Reviews Alternative, Indie Rock Cranes- Particles and Waves


  Artist: Cranes
CD Title: Particles & Waves
Label: Dadaphonic
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Date: 5/24/04

It's been a little while since Ali and Jim Shaw's somewhat unexpected foray into moody electronica territory on 2001's Future Songs. Now they've returned with Particles & Waves, an album that reworks its predecessor's electronic elements into a slightly more organic and rock-based form for something of a blend of new and old Cranes sounds. While its mellow, laid back approach and vibe probably won't do much to win back fans of the band's more rock/industrial-oriented past who were less than pleased with Future Songs, it's a strong, diverse, and sonically interesting album that seems to get better with each listen.

Things kick off with "Vanishing Point", which is not a New Order cover but rather a peculiar track that begins as a mellow ethereal number with swirling keyboard atmospheres and electronic drums before abruptly ending halfway through and returning as an upbeat guitar-based rock song in a move that's both stylistically and sonically similar to something The Flaming Lips might attempt. "K56" takes things in a moodier, sparser, more ethereal direction, with repetitive electronic loops and subtle guitars accenting Ali's haunting childlike vocals, while "Every Town" finds Jim manning the vocal helm for an unexpectedly folk-tinged percussion-free guitar/bass rock song reminiscent of Red House Painters. "Here Comes the Snow" is something of a plodding, laid back, whimsical rock number whose monotony is luckily broken up by the addition of odd processed guitar loops partway through that lead into a peculiar but extremely cool dissonant guitar interlude. The album's title track very slightly ups the tempo and proves to be a standout with more immediate rock drums, cool guitar loops and French lyrics delivered through some of the album's best vocal melodies. "Avenue A" is an excellent upbeat electronic-tinged rock track built around a simple rhythm guitar progression, while the following "Astronauts" is a melancholy piano-based instrumental. "Far from the City", the album's other immediate standout, is an amazing slow-paced, mellow rock offering centered on a two-chord acoustic guitar progression complemented by simple drums, beautiful accordion and spacey atmospheric synths. "Streams" approaches tribal ethereal drum n' bass territory, while the album closing "Light Song" is a nice little piano-accented whimsical rock track with lyrics that are somewhat silly ("the universe is ours, got everything we need, we can go to mars, with great velocity") but seem to fit nicely.

In general, Particles & Waves is a fairly strong, diverse release with a number of very good tracks and an interesting stylistic blend. It's really neither a return to the past nor a rehash of Future Songs. Instead, it falls pleasantly in between for an album that, while perhaps not the best thing they've ever released, is certainly an exceptional and worthwhile offering.

 

Cranes website: www.cranes-fan.com

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