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aMute

The Seahorse Limbo

(Intr-Version; US: 31 Oct 2006; UK: 16 Oct 2006)

The comparisons with Fennesz go so far, as do those with Tim Hecker. But on his second album, Jerome Deuson (a.k.a aMute) expands from his static debut A Hundred Dry Trees and brings the pop. In a characteristically experimental way, of course. The Belgian-based multi-instrumentalist adds drums and vocals to his palette of ambient strings, synths, and other instruments, but these aren’t so much infused as slotted in, so we get sections of ambience, sections of noise, and then more conventional sections with rock instrumentation and even (hushed) female vocals. At times, the disorientation is decidedly deliberate: on “Hit My Country”, chaotic, nondirectional sound, emphasized by violin arpeggios and tremolo, cuts to a broken beat and then a more conventional pop atmosphere 4:30 in. Sustaining complex ideas is never in question—“Oh! Le Zeppelin” is 12 minutes of minimal repetition, slow-building atmosphere, and gradual additions of new harmonic lines creating a static, shimmering beauty. And even pop is within aMute’s reach, as on “Sea Horse”, which blossoms into a bright, airy pop song; as the bouncing guitar sounds fade you’re left with an undeniably sweet feeling, the disorienting aftertaste of delicate complexity.

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Dan Raper has been writing about music for PopMatters since 2005. Prior to that he did the same thing for his college newspaper and for his school newspaper before that. Of course he also writes fiction, though his only published work is entitled "Gamma-secretase exists on the plasma membrane as an intact complex that accepts substrates and effects intramembrane cleavage". He is currently studying medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia.


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