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+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
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+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
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Wechsel Garland
Karaoke Kalk

The first half of Wechsel Garland's third full-length is a soothingly warm collection of measured songs soaked in springy xylophone melodies, splintered guitar harmonics and majestic, hazy pads. This is very much an ode to rudderless summer days, afternoons spent sauntering through parks, nights when stars would sleepwalk across the sky. During such moments, idleness becomes a most charming virtue, and these songs can be seen as an attempt to encourage people to let go of themselves for the sake of the moment.

Arrangements are simple and unsophisticated, but the music is nevertheless built of a gentle balance between composure and release. On album opener "Walker," brittle percussion shots are wrapped around gentle guitar harmonics and the soft hum of an organ heats the track from the inside.

Garland's voice is deep and slightly raspy, and though by no means distinctive or even affecting, his lyrics are often sharp and insightful — on the aforementioned "Walker," for instance, against a buzzing synth drone, he muses "Your history has no intention/ To last more than one day/ We know each other only briefly/ So don't smile on me too friendlily/ I'll definitely tell you later/ I can't protect your burning shelters." "Stones" is similarly peopled by glassy chimes floating across fingerpicked guitar and wet, throbbing basslines as Garland whispers, "It's clear what will come/ It comes crawling/ The time has come to realize there will be nobody to set you free from your own troubles/ The creature's all so wild/ But its blunt teeth reveals/ It's already on its knees."

Instrumental pieces are also sprinkled into the mix, allowing Garland to more fully develop his propensity for effulgent, pinprick arpeggios and mantric synthscapes. For many of these pieces, though, every speck of space seems packed with such an array of sounds — from bucolic chirrups and skipping piano lines to vivacious cello motifs and reverb-drenched beats — that many will feel a desire to take a step back. And though the second half of the album is no less busy, it is noticeably more relaxed. Tracks such as "Corona Loco (Look at Me)" adopt a dark, somewhat sinister expression, as dub basslines push around rolling drums and a taut, plucked guitar. These darker lines become sharper with the next few tracks, as one gets the sense that summer is drawing to an unwelcome, if long-expected, close — but, be that as it may, the odd trombone flourish and woozy electronic wash reminds us that it was not without its moments.

by Max Schaefer

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