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1st Issue

(self produced)

Whiny, nasal and poorly produced. These guys sound like a jam bar-band in a college town, mixing (inappropriately) Sabbath-inspired metal riffs with Dave Matthews Band acoustic and/or undistorted instrumentals and vocals. If they were a bit more inspired, I suppose it might've worked, but the music as it stands is banal and as tasteless as milquetoast, and the distorted guitar refrains really do not fit in with the subdued-bluesy-mellow foundation of most of this record. Perhaps much of my unaffectedness is due to the album sounding like it was recorded from the bathroom of the dive bar that it was produced in. If you pinch your nose shut and sing along to the record, I guarantee you'll sound exactly like the lead singer ("concrete"). Deadheads make better bootlegs than this. Etherglow could easily be a competent jam band, or lead a post-modern resurrection of the Sabbath sound (particularly in "bliss"), but not both at the same time, and not with their current vocalist. It just isn't working. There is some intricate and somewhat understated guitar work in here that remains muted by the weighty dullness of the encompassing musical framework, and poisoned by the painfully awful vocals.

The weakness of jam gives rise to its strengths. The weakness is that it is not composed as a singular entity, with overtures, climaxes or codas, and so does not have the comfort of structure to serve as a guide for construction. They are long, free-form sessions of extemporaneous explorations of musical boundaries. Etherglow's jamming sounds like pieces lifted from other artist's songs, serviceably hashed together. The result sounds contrived. Jamming is not mere synthesis via analysis, it is supposed to be an act of pure creation; it should amble, but never ramble, and is the domain (exclusively) of artists who have already mastered the art of structured music, and who are looking to discover (via a stream-of-consciousness wander through the musical landscape) the next great riff, melody, beat, or whatever. There are no preconceived notions about what they will find; it is an act of discovery. And therein lays the critical flaw here: another band with competent musicians who've learned how to digest what they've heard, and recombine it, but the lack of any unifying artistic vision leaves them sounding dull and flat. Nothing is really ventured here, and the diminished return is hardly surprising.

Etherglow has a great website (http://www.etherglow.com/ ) whose only real weakness is a bad font choice for the body text, but this is cause for wonder: how can you have a slick, professional website with very professional logo and mascot art, but produce a record that sounds like somebody forgot to take the microphone out of the coffee can? A shift of priorities is in order...

-Jason Dunn

Track listing:

1. turn cheek
2. bash
3. concrete
4. bliss
5. safe
6. matches, nails, knife
7. forward
8. car crash
9. march on
10. ebb & flow

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