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Golden Death Music

Ephemera Blues

(Helmet Room; US: 20 Nov 2007; UK: Available as import)

Ephemera Blues, the new album from Golden Death Music, is not as self-serious as both the album and the band’s title suggests. However, it’s close. This is spaced-out and psychedelic, but it doesn’t channel the past so much as brood in the face of the future. When it works, it is a big orchestra of sadness. “Together” is fatalistic but still yearning—“Together we can finally be apart,” sings Michael Ramey—and the guitar riff up-front in the mix sounds fragile and quiet. But off in the background of the track, another guitar squeals away, always growling behind the piano keys and soft acoustics, making Ramey’s singing merely the tip of a dangerous iceberg. Ramey himself can sometimes channel Jandek in his ghostly vocals. Sometimes that channeling comes through echo effects, but more often it’s in his desire to sing for emotion rather than for key. His willingness to let his voice warble and break is his biggest strength. And while some of these songs have too much space for their own good, and let themselves unravel, the best of this stuff is as carefully-constructed and well-executed as any space-pop floating around out there.

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Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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