65daysofstatic: One Time For All Time

Barzin: My Life in Rooms

The Monotreme releases Barzin's My Life In Rooms and 65daysofstatic's One Time For All Time are so contrasting they're virtually diametric, with the former's gorgeous slowcore worlds away from the crushing instrumental attack of the latter.

Following up his 2003 eponymous album, Canadian songwriter Barzin presents nine haunting, reverb-drenched ballads with help from Tony Dekker (Great Lake Swimmers), Suzanne Hancock, and a loose congregation of guest musicians (including Karen Graves who scored the beautiful string arrangements). In the dreamy opener “Let's Go Driving,” Barzin's echo-laden whisper languorously floats alongside a guitar's tremulous shudder, a pedal steel's cry, and an organ's shimmer. Boosted by entrancing arpeggios and an irresistibly lulling tempo, “So Much Time To Call My Own” is even more beautiful, especially when Barzin utters the spine-tingling hook of the title, and when the guitar and Vince Barbee's French Horn pair up the effect is equally lovely (his playing also brings a stately quality to “Take This Blue”). The feel is melancholy, late-night, and intimate, the lyrics introspective and confessional, and the tempo unhurried. One could be critical of the album's excessive reliance on a singular tempo and style but Barzin's gift for hypnotic melodies and the high quality of the songwriting and performances render such caveats irrelevant. Put simply, My Life In Rooms is lovely.

Sheffield quartet 65daysofstatic follows its own 2004 debut The Fall of Math with One Time For All Time, a blazing howl of shredded guitars and furious beats that allows for occasional moments of tranquility—think Ministry crossed with Photek and King Crimson. A bulldozing roar of guitars flattens everything in sight in “Await Rescue” while the ferocious clatter of drum & bass beats accelerates and slows throughout “Drove Through Ghosts to Get Here,” momentarily pausing for an elegant piano line to appear before pummeling it into oblivion with merciless guitar shredding. There's no denying the group generates an awesome wall of sound but volume and intensity alone do not a masterpiece make. One of things that makes The Timeout Drawer such a fantastic ‘instrumental rock' outfit, for example, is that it strengthens its lethal attack with distinguished compositional writing. “The Big Afraid” and the elegant closer “Radio Protector” show that 65daysofstatic is capable of matching that level (especially during the latter song's multiple mood shifts); in a perfect world it would have done so throughout the entire album.

November 2006