Noctilucent Valleys (Soft Abuse)

Meditative dronescapes and folkie clatter are all the rage among indie stoners. But here's my issue with this stuff: It's too easy to produce something that sounds bong-a-rific, but lacks a sense of meticulous craftsmanship. Simply slap together some archaic woodwinds, post-Fahey axework, moody feedback, witchy women, delay pedals, an exotic instrument or two, and voilà! You have yourself a "Bull Tongue" write-up.

Now, Ov owns all that stuff -- but it also possesses the craft. The San Francisco duo of Christine Boepple and Loren Chasse (core members of the Jewelled Antler) understand how to sculpt a mishmash of abstract textures -- some earthy, others industrial -- into a listening experience that's as driven by narrative as, say, Dark Side of the Moon or any other classic song cycle; Ov is just a whole lot weirder-sounding.

Check out the savvy transition from "Soul of Swan" to "The Noctilucent Cloud." The former is a 90-second snippet of pondside rumination; the charming string work feels Eastern in its utter simplicity. The latter, however, quickly relocates listeners to the isolation tank for an eight-minute trip through neo-krautrock's ambiance. See, you follow the short with the long, the lightweight with the profound -- the basics of good storytelling; things my editor tells me all the time. At least Ov has been listening.

Speaking of CD Review

More by Justin F. Farrar


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