steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Cul De Sac

"Immortality Lessons" CD

Strange Attractors

Genres: post-rock, experimental rock, free jazz

Strange Attractors
PO Box 13007
Portland, OR
97213-0007 USA

July 1 - 7 2002

Post-rock enthusiasts should recognize Cul De Sac to some extent; they've been bashing the brains out of the borders of "rock" for years now, and they aren't planning on dropping the fight anytime soon.

This, their most recent release, is a live album. Cul de Sac were penned to record a live concert at a radio station one day, but were all in horrible moods and were completely uninterested in playing. They were stuck, though, as they had to perform. So they did, and they just played through it carelessly, all in an attempt to get it over with. After it all, they knew that they had created a piece of shit and they just wanted to forget all about the incident. After a while, though, they listened to what they had played and realized that it was one of the best performances they had ever done. Oh, the irony. Alas, here it is - on CD and ready to go.

After just one listening session, it became very evident that Immortality Lessons is a keeper. Apocalyptic post-rock soundscapes crash across planes of infinite space, all in an effort to produce one giant headtrip. Glenn Jones' sonic guitarwork is psychedelic and mind-numbing, although you never feel compelled to move to it. As the instruments carry you through various worlds of differing frequencies, your mind follows but your body rests in place. At times you're in the land of Tortoise, at times you're in the outer galaxies of Yume Bitsu and Landing - but you're never at rest, and you sure as heck ain't anywhere close to Earth.

The title-track is one of the best pieces on this CD. Hurtling past the boundaries of rock with free drumming, psychedelic guitarwork, and improvised electronic twiddling, the piece fires by in a jumble of chaotic, Medeski, Martin, and Wood-inspired experimental jazz-psych-electro-rock. It just bleeds perfection. "The Dragonfly's Bright Eye", on the other hand, is a ten minute experimental epic. Loose, free, and completely moving, it lays back, opens its mouth, and lets out a great big yawn of sound - all to the enjoyment of the listener. Meanwhile, "Liturgy" is a loosely manipulated recording of an ethnic chant, "Frozen in Fury on the Roof of the World" is a moody, semi-melodic musical journey, and "Blues in E" is a beautiful exercise in laidback, cinematic jazz.

All of the songs on Immortality Lessons flow into each other perfectly and beautifully, and there's absolutely nothing to complain about. Cul De Sac have scored another hit; let's just hope they never reach the end of their road.


Matt Shimmer