[21 January 2014]
Silent Lions’ world is one where atmosphere and songcraft grease each other’s wheels without competing for dominance. Groovy, sultry and sinister, all three are interwoven like the components of a marble cake. This spookhouse blues template is one Dean Tartaglia and Matt Klein purveyed on their debut EP, 2012’s The Parliaments, and perfect with the six-song The Compartments. Tartaglia’s heavy bass and Klein’s drumming form the foundation of their sound, but these minimalist components belie what they’re capable of, Tartaglia coloring their songs with an abundance of pedal effects and samples. What results is arguably the most inherently nocturnal band since Morphine.
“Runnin’ Me Down” opens things ominously, led by a thumping bass line and swampy vocals that sound as if they were sung through a catacomb. Unnerving ambience established, the first of the record’s many abrupt stylistic shifts occurs as the drums crash and a vintage West Coast hip-hop tone runs through, in turn informing some rap-influenced vocalizations. On its heels are “Stolen in the Heat of the Moment”, which chugs forward before dropping out to sparse key notes, and “Crash & Burn”, which arrives on a wave of distortion, danceable rhythms and Tartaglia’s falsetto vocals before morphing into an aural conflagration worthy of its title at the refrain. “Condition” starts with the austere hush of a haunted church before resurging into clamorous terrain and “Space in Time” bookends the EP nicely by returning some of the hip-hop inflections before phasing into a noisy sendoff. All in all, the EP leaves Silent Lions poised for a stellar full-length debut.