Zelienople: His/Hers

On its fifth album and Type debut, His/Hers, Chicago trio Zelienople migrates towards the hazy psychedelic-folk-blues climes inhabited by Charalambides. The album's five long tracks offer ample room for guitarist-vocalist Matt Christensen, percussionist Mike Weis, and guitarist-clarinetist Brian Harding to explore gradual shifts in mood and dynamics, with the material ranging between lonely, desolate balladry and ferocious caterwaul. “Family Beast” sets the tone immediately as swampy guitars shudder and twang while Christensen's high-pitched drawl drifts like a snakebit man heard during his last moments. The even more submersive “Moss Man” starts out as a slow-core, somnambulant lullaby and then gathers force, turning hazier and denser, until the detonation occurs halfway through, transforming the tune into a cacophonous freakout of lacerating guitar shredding and drum clatter. With most tracks in the eight- to nine-minute range, multiple changes in character occur during a given piece's duration. “Parts Are Lost,” for example, is initially lively, with Christensen's soft vocal prodded by jingling sleigh bells, but then segues into a darker episode of hazy folk ambiance. Similarly, in its first half, “Forced March” presents a bruising cyclone of raw guitar fuzz, funereal percussion, and drowned vocals; in its second, the tempo slows for a dreamy tremolo guitar workout. While the album isn't such a radical stylistic departure for Zelienople, His/Hers clearly offers evidence of Type's expansion from its original predominantly electronic emphasis to a catalogue that also accommodates the trippy excursions favoured by Zelienople and The North Sea.

July 2007