The Cranes have been around for decades, and a few select
music aficionados know of them and their unique brand of downbeat
ethereal pop. In my memory, I can recall the first few Cranes releases
being a bit more towards the gothic side of the spectrum; darker music
plodding stoically under the seemingly pre-teenage vocals of Alison
Shaw. The voice is what was so eerily strange about their music
just a strange unearthly kind of female voice, young but strong, fragile
but sturdy, and definitely more than a little haunting. The music
has grown and changed, maturing to a more ambient pop sound, filled
with clever keyboards, lush string arrangements, and folky guitars.
But Shaw's voice has remained the same mysterious and wondrously odd
Particles & Waves is a brilliant album from start to finish.
The music is meditative at times (as on "K56"), flowing
with hypnotic blips and a thundering undercurrent. Jim Shaw,
songwriter for the band, takes his turn on vocals on "Every Town"
- a track that oozes serenity and grace, built on a beautiful piano
line and light string and guitar accompaniment, with beautiful vocal
harmonies to cap it off. "Particles & Waves" edges a
bit more towards a noisier spectrum, recalling the more jazzy moments
of early Sugarcubes records. The song's rhythm is entrancing
with its odd off-beat drums and strangely oscillating keyboards. Shaw's
vocals are nearly unintelligible, most of them sounding a bit more
like French than English
maybe that's why I don't understand
them. Carnival-like and weirdly gay is the curious instrumental "Astronauts",
a track that is at once captivatingly brilliant and eerily spooky
for no tangible reason. "Far From The City" is the most
easily accessible track, coming closest to a modern rock song. Nicely
recorded acoustic guitar carries Alison's vocals nicely over a cascade
of odd sounds, including an accordion, and a gently fluid rhythm track
- purely gorgeous music for those who'll take the time to listen.
Also included with the record is a DVD featuring a brilliant 4-song
set titled Live In London. The performance is exceptional,
and well worth the watching, especially for folks like me who have
never had the chance to witness The Cranes live.
1. Vanishing Point
3. Every Town
4. Here Comes The Snow
5. Particles & Waves
6. Avenue A
8. Far rom The City
10. Light Song
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