Hessien: Bring The Lights EP
Sound In Silence

Miaou: Calcifer EP
Sound In Silence

Two new EP releases from Sound In Silence, one featuring a half-hour of music by Miaou, a Tokyo-based trio featuring Tatsuki Hamasaki (guitar, programming) and sisters Mayumi Hasegawa (bass, guitar, keyboards, glockenspiel) and Hiromi Hasegawa (drums), and Hessien, a duo made up of Tim Martin (Maps And Diagrams) and Charles Sage (y0t0, The Rothko Chapel).

Miaou are hardly novices: together since 1999, the trio has released four albums, a remix album, two EPs, and one split EP (with Below The Sea), and the group's well-seasoned sound is effectively captured on Bring The Lights (issued in a limited edition of 300 handmade and hand-numbered copies). Its five settings locate themselves somewhere between muscular post-rock and sparkling electronica, a combination never better captured on the EP than in the aptly titled opening piece, “Airglow,” which breezily glides with a free-floating radiance. Bolstered by a rich arrangement of guitars, keyboards, and glockenspiel, the song receives a strong push from Hiromi's forceful drum attack. In contrast to the jubilance of the opener, “River Zephyr” spotlights Miaou's wistful side in pairing downtempo rhythms with a melodic slowburn. The track is as resplendent as the opener, however, and in certain moments suggests the trio's sound might be better characterized as a particularly dreamy variant of shoegaze. Even more introspective is the bucolic central piece, “Deep Into a Forest,” while the longer cuts “Paper On You” and “Water & Us” allow the group to integrate more patiently into their arrangements contrasts in dynamics and buildups (the blissful closer “Water & Us” liberally expands on the trio's core sound by adding guests on flute, piano, cello, and guitars). It's all lovely, well-crafted stuff that speaks favourably for Miaou as sound designers and melodists.

On their twenty-one-minute Calcifer EP (issued in a limited edition of 200 handmade and hand-numbered copies), Hessien members Martin (who's actually identified as Tim Diagram on the inner sleeve) and Sage present four new tracks built from guitar, bass, ukulele, and electronics. Like Miaou, Hessien isn't a new project; in fact, the duo's Sound In Silence outing is its seventh release, with a full-length album and five EPs having preceded it. “Wrong Turn at Albuquerque” sets the EP tone with swirls of dense ambient blur before Sage's electric guitar pierces the haze with distinct melodic phrases. We quickly plunge into a fuzzy zone where elements shift in and out of focus, their definition obscured by distortion, reverb, and pedal effects. Heavier by comparison, “When the Planets Align” ripples and combusts at a controlled level, its coal-black, molten smears content to intone forcefully without surrendering to detonation. Sage's lulling bass and guitar patterns assert themselves clearly during “From Beyond the Fourth Wall” without ever being entirely swallowed up within the slowly accumulating textural surround. If anything, the closing “There Are No Coincidences” dives deepest into the textural pool, with the fragmented melodies almost buried under thick waves of bleeding guitar textures and cavernous haze. Think densely textured, loop-heavy, and guitar-oriented sounds of a rather elegant and calming (as opposed to crushing) kind and you'll have some idea of the EP's deep, immersive sound.

November 2013