Mise En Abyme, an arty electro-rock band from Portland, exist in the small band realm. This is their third album, but they’re making no great play for accessibility. Kudos for that, as its all about judging the music on its own terms—and in fact, there’s little need for open-mindedness when listening to the band’s latest, Do You Hear the Hum. It’s gothic in a not-quite-Knife way, trip-hop in a not-quite-Portishead way, and art rock in a not-quite Radiohead way. Confused? The music sometimes feels that way, swinging from fuzzy instrumental hip-hop (on “The Riot”) to chanting Gothic solemnity (“Extruder”) to skuzzy rock (“The Next Country”). The group must be having a laugh (are they having a laugh?) on “Tourist”, the most Radiohead of the songs on Do You Hear the Hum. Technically, the song’s great, a “National Anthem”-type song taken to its logical extreme, with snippets of sound as if the CD player’s actually skipping (makes you think). Mise En Abyme excels at a slightly slower tempo, pushing around in murky corners for atmospheres that stick. You get the feeling, listening to this technically proficient sound, that darkness covers everything.
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