Originally published in Punk Planet May/June 2007
This is a soundtrack less in the sense of Ennio Morricone, perhaps, than Rachel’s Systems/Layers or Gastr del Sol’s Harp Factory on Lake Street, where bridges create phantom-images and the space between the notes provides its own imagined narratives.
You don’t need to see Bardo Hotel, the Tuxedomoon/George Kahanakis film these four musicians scored in 2005 and 2006 in San Francisco, to truly envision the film. And that’s a testament to the effectiveness of this bizarrely enveloping 20-song offering.
The music, for the most part, slinks along in the shadows: a bassy lurch and smoky jazzy interlude here, a clip of narration and feedback or a repeating guitar figure there.
The group occasionally unmasks larger intentions, offering grandiose centerpieces like the menacing strings of “Triptych,” the drunken burlesque of the “Prometheus Bound” sequence or the breathtaking “Vulcanic, Combustible.” It’s here that listeners might find themselves most disarmed, and rightfully so.