Sunday, August 31, 2008

Heat From a DeadStar - The Lighthouse (V)

The first thing that struck me about Heat From a DeadStar's Lighthouse EP was their simultaneous use of and lack of regard for tonality. Their tastefully bass-heavy grooves in "Elusive Ways" seem to just avoid standard rock approaches and meld themselves into something slightly less straightforward and thus all the more pleasing. Dissonance catches the ear and makes one hesitate somewhere between head-bobbing and thrashing about on the ground.

The source of this dissonant influence becomes more apparent with the second track, "Joan." Acoustic guitars and ambient (synth?) smears blend around distant, reverb-heavy vocals. That's right, we've dropped straight into shoegaze, with DeadStar's dissonant touches brought to a new arena in the uncharacteristically complex and audible bass and heavily effected, warbling guitar leads that further distinguish this appealing track from run-of-the-mill Slowdive imitators. My main complaint is that I barely feel like I've had a chance to enjoy the track after five minutes! I could happily continue drifting through a bit longer if DeadStar chose to support me in the lapping of Joan's seas . . . if they worked back down to the more minimalist sound of the opening and through another verse, I'd be hooked for good. The main sections of the track demonstrate a talent with attractive tonal composition and vocal performance sadly lost in the band's other, less delicate instrumental tracks.

DeadStar drift from the acoustic shoegaze sound of "Joan" before long into something more reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine's noise-guitar in the title track. DeadStar emphasise their love/hate relationship with tonality again in this song as they shift from the awkwardly dissonant, pounding wholetone (!) of the intro through softer but still clashing interludes and more noise and heavy bass that make "The Lighthouse" feel almost like a normal track through the conviction of its denial of natural scales.

I was initially startled by the last track's strong electronic beats until I looked at the title again - Black Swans, Re: Dux Tion extended mix. This track wouldn't feel at all out of place at a dance club, and primarily explores the recurring theme of DeadStar's sonic versatility - I'm beginning to imagine an effects board that resembles the collections of hardware noise artists like Stimbox . . . in a noise-rock, dissonant, occasionally shoegazy context.

I'm considering organising this CD into the metaphorical racks somewhere between My Bloody Valentine, Cherubs, Swans, and Doomsday Postcard's strange industrial work. I don't know how to, or want to, nail this band down, but I know I'm interested and looking forward to the completion of their upcoming album, "Seven Rays of the Sun."

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