All lightly strummed guitar, clear, airy organ notes, and an ambiance that manages to be sparse without ever feeling empty, the new effort from Berlin instrumental pop-rock quartet Contriva is breezy and suffused with sunlight. Newly signed to Morr, but skirting the overt electronic manipulation of most of that label’s roster, Contriva seems to be playing from a stage of pristine marble, sending their loose, unaffected compositions out over rolling blue-green sea-swell on gusts of warm wind. But for all the band’s languid momentum and immaculate production, their best moments come when they balance all that innocuous ease out with a touch of disquiet, as in the liberal streaking of gorgeous atonal violin across eight-minute centerpiece “Centipede”. It’s effortless material either way, but when such touches are set aside, Separate Chambers sometimes just feels a little too effortless.
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