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Friday, June 05, 2009

CD Review: Pelican - Ephemeral EP

Pelican - Ephemeral EP
2009 Southern Lord
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



There are two bands (with no disrespect intended towards the mighty Neurosis) who best embody the sound of this "post metal" genre if you absolutely must call it that (this writer prefers ambient psych metal, frankly), those being Isis and of course, Chicago's Pelican.

While Isis are famed sculptors of their trade, Pelican opts sometimes to employ the same directives in their often climactic distortion scapes, yet they also tend to jump right into the meat of things and yo-yo their loops and lines for their listeners' and their own grooving pleasure.

The latter is the case as of their new EP Ephemeral. Their first offering outside of Hydra Head for the much darker-embraced Southern Lord, one would automatically assume this transition would have tenebrous effects upon Pelican. Well, yes and no. While the tones of Ephemeral are much lower and deeper sunken, that's the most extreme latitude Pelican ventures here.

Ephemeral assumes a largely similar tempo all the way through its twenty minutes over the course of three songs, which presents the listener both a lollygag and freefall with which to stretch their arms over their heads and sink themselves into like aural jelly. The first track "Embedding the Moss" is the coolest of the three with a tough set of riffs to jive along to, while the title track is closest to what you're familiar with on Austrailasia and The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw.

Trevor de Brauw and Laurent Schroeder-Lebec whisk their trademark brushy downstrokes throughout Ephemeral while Bryan and Larry Herweg carry their reliable selves as Pelican's sharp rhythm section. As the title track grows strength after three minutes of a rambling groove, it dials in and becomes nearly cosmic.

"Geometry of Murder" is perhaps the most exploratory song on Ephemeral with its lucid opening notes which get snuffed by a syrupy outpouring from the band's metallic and doomy sieves. It is the heaviest and dankest cut on the EP which is undoubtedly spent in indirect appeasement of their new benefactors, Greg Anderson and Southern Lord. Can you not see a Sunn 0))) and Pelican duet coming down the pike? Yeah, baby...

While City of Echoes allowed Pelican to refine their craft to the point of practical finesse, Ephemeral follows up in near-similar straightforwardness. The differentiating factor with Ephemeral is a decided grunginess as antithesis to what they built on City of Echoes. This only makes Pelican more dynamic and broadly appealing. Catch them live with Isis if you can; their road union is a "post metal" dream come true...

Rating: ****

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