Reviewed by Jennifer Coxley (angryape.com)
The fact Sigur Ros are re-issuing ‘Von’ later this month - a collection of early recordings which dates back to 1999, shows how ‘cutting edge’ Julian Fane’s take on acid-fried guitar music fails to be. This isn’t to say ‘Special Forces’ lacks the pyschedelic swash of his influences, only that Fane’s chosen path has clearly been done before.
However, with songs so dark and beautifully arranged that take elements of both contemporary electronica and the powerful drones of shoe gazers such as Slowdive, it’s difficult not to take note. More lethargic spoken-word tracks, add a voice to leave you both breathless and the hairs on your neck stand, in a similar route to the warm strings and ambience of RF’s ‘Falls’ or new Leaf signings, Efterklang.
The largely instrumental songs that take a dance ethos to the processed guitar effects and warped off-key synthesizers, are Mercury Rev gone dance. This may sound like a relative of recent dream-meisters The Earlies, who fused real instrumentation with an endless pit of soft synths, but Fane takes this same approach only to smother it with spastic, distorted beats and swirling keyboards.
‘Special Forces’ is a shoe-gazery, psychedelic classic which by all rights, is the natural follow-up to Manitoba’s ‘Up In Flames’. A bold, statement of intent that chooses to be as experimental as it is emotive, in a serious contender for album of the year.
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