It’s always an occasion when Kranky drops an album from a first-stringer, and more often than not, these come in multiples to heighten the excitement. While this plurality mostly provides rich contrast and the sheer awe of being alive among these specters, it can, at times, harmonize destructively to the detriment of the lesser works. Such was the tragedy of the debut by Chicago’s Implodes, having been released in close company with the absolutely perfect ‘Common Era’ by Belong. While ‘Black Earth’ revised and resubmitted the raw, syncretic brilliance of their Plus Tapes demo, the voice of rust-belt psychrock times Jewelled Antler weird was too new, and it lost the credit of its signature spook to the masterly Belong. For their follow-up, Implodes come bundled with the most recent from youthful stalwart Benoit Pioulard, the baroque ‘Hymnal’. Where that album reduces any remaining diachronies by pitting the very singular Pioulard (Thomas Meluch) against the full-band of ‘Recurring Dream,’ the loveless sound of the latter is only bolstered – like a micro-climate – by the precedent of the ‘Mirroring’ LP from last summer as a divergent track of pedal reverb over fuzz.
Affirming their mission, ‘Recurring Dream’ begins with the sequel-intro “Wendy 2,” enrolling the lurking goth of Blessure Grave to compliment the sensible “I” statements of the Midwestern rhythm section which launches “Scattered in the Wind.” Twee bass lines and acid solo lines cross over the him and her duets significantly upgraded by the vocal presence of Emily Elhaj, evoking several generations of Sonic Youth in the immediate wake. The tick tock of “Sleepyheads” smelling of ‘EVOL,’ the tubular dreariness of “Necronomics” rips the best (Ranaldo) ripper off ‘Dirty.’ Quickly making a convention of it, the band frequently pair paper thin scales for lead over crawling bass grooves – again evoking Blessure Grave, but with greater precision – on “You Wouldn’t Know It” framing a dusky baritone with strange sines, on “Bottom of the Well” an even application of minor chords and chorus effects in an impressionistic ripple, recalling the elemental idolatry which made ‘Black Earth’ so multi-sensory. Despite all these wonderful modes to choose from, the band gel most straight-forward when embracing their post-rock urges on stand-out tracks “Ex Mass” and “Melted Candle,” forming a now neo-classical trajectory skewing My Bloody Valentine to Landing to Paik: soaring scales, muscular rhythm, technophile rack effects. Very recommended.
How this differs from ‘Hymnal’ should go without saying, except as some measure of quality. It’s apples and oranges, ripened in different seasons. Last seen on the very good ‘Plays Thelma’ mini-album from late 2011, Benoit Pioulard is slowly trading his textures for forms, reaching new highs for song structure on these twelve tracks. Erring more than ever for single word evocations to title veiled love songs, Pioulard seems to have inherited the foregone thread from the debut of labelmate Lotus Plaza, where well-tempered treatments triumphed by immaculate melodic conceptions; now it’s “Hawkeye” and “Margin” and “Litiya” achieving that hymnal sublime through the spooky matter of (largely organ-fed) instrumentals “Homily,” “Gospel,” “Knell” – each of which recall the bleary highlights of ‘Thelma.’ Like a spirit filtered through a screen door, every intuitive note arrives specked in analog film, casting a slight afternoon glare. In convenient summary with this sprint through the Kranky gallery, “Foxtail” summarizes the missing link of Low’s ecstatic spirituals, offset in methodical trails and reverent verses. A familiar repentance of maturity, located on a plane parallel to the upstarts above.