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stars of the lid - ...and Their Refinement of the Decline
Back in stock! Not a band who ever do things by halves, this latest opus from Stars Of The Lid is a mammoth two cd (or three vinyl) set and is breathtaking for the entire duration. You see, although some might level that Adam Wiltzie and Brian McBride have really stuck to the same style since their inception, they have in my opinion been moving steadily forward with each release and have gone from whispering post-shoegaze guitar drones to something altogether more grandiose. It would be crass to describe the music as cinematic, but the first thing that strikes me about "And their Refinement of the Decline' is its similarity to the work of Zbigniew Preisner and specifically his work with film director Krzysztof Kieslowski. This isn't necessarily in sound alone, Stars of the Lid share Preisner's (and Kieslowski's) sense of restraint, of minimalism and stark beauty without resorting to meaningless sentimentalism. What we have here is beautiful music in its rawest form - horns, strings and that haunting reverb-drenched guitar all perfectly placed and allowed time to breathe. Nothing here is rushed, you hear passages rise and fall gloriously, sounds make an entrance and slowly disappear and nothing ever dares to outstay its welcome. Arvo Part, Gavin Bryars or Brian Eno would all be more than appropriate comparisons for this stunning collection of work, but Stars of the Lid are almost at the point where they defy comparison altogether. Of course they have introduced further, more overtly 'classical' elements into their mix but the music they are making is quite uniquely their own - they are one of those rare bands that has absolutely defined a sound. What we are hearing is frankly two musicians who are at the top of their game, sharing their carefully measured view of the world with us and allowing us a peek into musical perfection - and you really can't ask for anything more than that. Without a shadow of doubt one of the contenders for album of the year and proof if it were needed that Stars of the Lid are one of the most quietly important bands of the moment...in fact it's music like this that makes it so gratifying running a record shop...