Wednesday, January 5, 2011

No Land Called Home - Subheim

No Land Called Home

Ad Noiseam Records.

SCQ Rating: 77%

As traditions go, it wouldn’t be an Ad Noiseam review without some brief preamble concerning the label’s regimented, tough-as-nails sound. A specialization in breakcore and experimental electronics remains their point of pride, but I mention it here while replaying mournful strings and piano that shoulder ‘Dusk’ like a coffin. With No Land Called Home, Subheim has activated Ad Noiseam’s potential in home-listening electronica’s quieter pastures with songwriting that, orchestration aside, bends and peaks upon minimal beats and drones.

Well, for the most part, anyway. More archaic than organic, ‘When Time Relieves’ could’ve been recorded upon a mountain-top with its mammoth swells of reverberating bass and live drums. It’s one of several enclosed achievements No Land Called Home executes when it isn’t translating distress through cinematic (‘Between Fear and Love’ and worldly (’Conspiracies’) lens. Often times Subheim’s edgy focus exceeds its duties, what with varied vocalists and a constantly shifting sense of urgency, by dropping a track as groove-based and atmospheric as ‘The Cold-Hearted Sea’. In other cases, like the heavy-handed ‘December’, the record steers into the mirror-image of a pounding, post-Batman Begins Hans Zimmer score. The album’s orchestration rightly deserves the most ambition-points, but its source of tension resides foremost in significant, if ornamentally positioned, electronic layers that, for my money, render this effort all the more hybridized and impressive.

No Land Called Home comprises a big step for Subheim, who created this rich listening experience, and Ad Noiseam for further expanding its cloudy comfort-zone.

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