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December 

The Lament Configuration (Earache)

The word "trance" has been bandied about carelessly for the last few years, during ambient music's somewhat surprising rise in popularity. The term, as it's generally understood, seems to refer to some blissed-out state of navel-gazery, within which only peaceful feelings are experienced and all's right with the world. Trances, though, come in many different shapes and sizes, some of them headier than others. Case in point: December's The Lament Configuration.

The Lament Configuration is what Slipknot will sound like when they're no longer on a major label and all the money's run out for good. It is simply relentless. The drums don't just keep time: They nail it to the wall, creating the first and most audible layer of December's multicolored, rage-drenched but richly textured onslaught. It's the same with the guitars, which strike an identifiable major chord maybe twice in 40 minutes; the rest of the time, they're tolling enormous, harsh, heavily fuzzed-out swathes of sound that flash from the speakers in riff clusters, one after another, repeating themselves like formulae for 8 or 12 bars. Once you've been hypnotized by the volume and speed pyrotechnics of the whole thing, even the mega-distorted, just-gargled-Pine-Sol screams of the singer assume their own kind of assaultive charm. Resoundingly excellent, The Lament Configuration supplies the sort of trance you might encounter hurtling through space at impossible speeds or after idling too long in a gallery full of Jackson Pollocks. You can keep your Enya. The real mood music lies elsewhere.

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