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- Bleaklow by The Stranger
9/10 Ant Staff review, 02 May 2008
NOTE THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE NOW OUT OF PRINT CD!
The other Jim Kirby release in this week is his second release under his obscure The Stranger alias. The first being a self titled CDr on Phthalo way back in 1998. I've been looking forward to this one since I clocked the previews on his website a bit ago. 'Bleaklow' is a dark opus of deeply rich textures and resonating ambience. The Caretaker tracks he's put out recently are all well worth your attention, however sonically he's really pushed himself on this one with immense attention to detail. The palette of sounds used are fairly consistent throughout with widescreen sequences of pulsating noise, smothered distant melodies and harmonics juxtaposed with very occasional sparse beats to create a tantalizing black atmosphere. Thoughts that are locked inside your subconscious, that you dare not face are laid bear in front of you. Yes this is bleak but in an enlightening and fascinating way. Again like the Caretaker stuff, this evokes feelings of nostalgia but it is a far more futuristic trip. This strikes me as a very personal and introspective album and I'd say if you weren't a fan of the V/Vm butchering gear but like a wee bit of dark ambient then forget that stuff, dim the lights and listen to this with fresh ears. A rewarding journey into the dark recesses of the human mind. "Inverted Burial" makes me imagine a post apocalyptic industrial soundscape with acid rain crackles, coming down after a night of debauchery in a sleazy underground Belgian new beat bunker. Things are not all bleak however. "Indefinite Ridge" has some sunshine peering through the black clouds with a very moving, soulful synth. A track that shatters the stereotype many people may have formed through the bulk of his work as V/Vm. It's extremely difficult to try and articulate the feeling you get from 'Bleaklow'. I guess it's just one of those albums you need to discover for yourself. The album comes to a close with the spectral tones of 'Ominous Sunset'. A title that fits the morphing synths and sparkling, haunting melodies perfectly giving you a sense of reward for sticking through the darkness and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I reckon this is one of the most powerful and thought provoking releases to come out of the unstoppable force that is the renegade house of V/Vm. Like an almighty chess master you literally cannot anticipate his next move... Lord Kirby we salute you! Limited and housed in minimal silk screened sleeve in ziplock polythene wallet with insert. Highly recommended.
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