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12 August 2017

Anjou:
Epithymía (Kranky)

Mark
Nelson and Robert Donne, once two-thirds of legendary drone-post-rock
project Labradford, find themselves once again collaborating as
Anjou, here with their second album of hushed ambient compositions.
Whereas Labradford’s various output over their several albums in the
late 90s and early 00s explored more traditional vocal and guitar
arrangements at first, and then more experimental and lush deviations
later, Anjou feels intent on a focus that’s more expansive and
spacious. One need only dive into the long opening track,
“Culucinae,” to get a hefty serving of what the duo excel at:
broad landscapes of sound that have a dynamic arc but which don’t
concern themselves with traditional song structure whatsoever. It’s
laden with effects — reverb and delay, foremost — and it buzzes
with a certain kind of subtle electricity. In this way it reminds me
of some of Labradford’s spacier, more celestial material, like A
Stable Reference
without the song structure underpinnings and with
its instrumental sources fully obscured in chiaroscuro layering.

Epithymía by Anjou

But
it’s not all haze, as even that first epic track makes evident;
halfway through it deteriorates into noise before shifting shape into
something far more elegant and pastoral. My favorite of the lot is
“An Empty Bank,” a gloomy, thirteen-minute sprawl that begins
with the inclusion of a startlingly clear cornet contribution from
Paul Watson. Like most of Epithymía’s longer pieces, it evolves
and changes course several times, before resolving into the hazy,
prolonged decay of “Georgia,” the closing track. It can be
difficult to frame Anjou’s music with traditional reference points,
which is essentially by design; the duo deliberately sidestep song
structure and focus there efforts on expansive journeys rather than
discrete moments or highlights. In this sense, while the music may
not move me in the same way that their Labradford material has in the
past, I quite like it in its own right. Fans of wandering soundscapes
will likely enjoy the broad swaths of terrain that Epithymía covers.

Buy it: Bandcamp

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