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Lesbian: Forestelevision

Part of Edgar Allan Poe's conception of short stories was that they must be long enough to read in one sitting and that each element should contribute toward a single effect. At his best, Poe was a master of his own standards. Think, for example, about stories like "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Fall of the House of Usher," or "Ligeia." Stories like this illustrate Poe's way of thinking and leave readers with strong impressions concerning the nature of obsessive madness and other strong psychological states.

I'm not going to apply Poe's theory to this album, of course, but I do want to think about it in terms of listening to it in one sitting and in terms of the overall impact it seems to have. Since most albums in my collection are mostly made up of several songs (the exception is an obvious one—Dopesmoker by Sleep, that hour long stoner masterpiece), I realize that this is unconventional, an attempt to think about this kind of music in slightly different terms. With this album, Lesbian isn't necessarily trying to compete with Sleep; instead, they seem to be thinking in terms of attention itself, considering the ways music like this (basically a conglomeration of doom, sludge, and black metal) can handle longer forms. Not surprisingly, it works. Most listeners, I assume, probably figured that doom and sludge always had a longer form in it, one that naturally borders up against the psychedelic. After all, this music isn't about rock star guitar and drum pyrotechnics, bravado performances, and ego boosting. No, this music is about drawing out the power of the sound—that sweet gloom—and extending it into seemingly infinite space. Besides, Lesbian is strong band and its members have obviously worked hard to give listeners something memorable and exciting.

I'm not interested in reviewing this album in terms of what parts of the songs do what kinds of things. I admit that I don't have the patience to track the time stamp on my itunes account. I'm not sure either that readers really want to follow me into the minute and second of this track. For that matter, I usually listen to new releases while I'm out for my morning walk and let the music sink in to my mind while enjoying the outdoors. So what's it like to listen to this album? It's cool. The beat is slow and the music builds on its consistent pulse, finding new levels of high end and low end sound. Things mostly ebb and flow between mellowness and aggressiveness, a kind of extreme bipolar mood that likes the drama to come from extreme emotions. The guitars, like the drums, are constantly going on this album, but they sometimes allow for plenty of sustain, particularly at one point in the second third of the song, a part more focused on overall atmosphere and mood. In some ways, these were my favorite moments, mostly because I really it when bands use minimal and repetitive structures and chord changes within a higher register. The doomier parts of this song were riffy and groovy and strong. I confess that I sometimes found the vocals (performed by Dorando Hodous) to intrude on my experience rather than to contribute to it. His rasp and growl distracted me from the instrumental parts. Lots of bands employ the harsh growl these days; I want to hear the complexities of the interplay between the guitars, bass, and drums. Toward the end, the vocals are a little cleaner, but they are also more anxious. The best part—in terms of the vocals—was the repeated chorus-like chant that begins somewhere during the last ten minutes. I was also not always impressed with the synthesizer parts—at least I assume that's what they were. They come in at odd times and are messy, random, and out of place.

In the end, this is a fascinating and exciting experiment with the long form. For the most part, it works really well, but it doesn't always sustain the groove and appeal that, to me, should have made up the pulse of the whole thing. By the end, "Forestelevision" is overlong, even a little more angst-ridden and anxious than necessary. I admire the attempt and suspect that this album will have a certain appeal, possibly in the same way Dopesmoker has. Still, a little more spit and polish could have honed this thing into an underground classic. I'm curious if they'll perform the whole thing live; it could be quite a challenge to reproduce it completely in a live setting. There's potential here, though, for some serious improvisation, something that could make "Forestelevision" more of an organic event, an attempt to think of performance in terms of spontaneity rather than complete reproduction.

Track Listing:
1. Forestelevision

Added: June 22nd 2013
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1560
Language: english

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