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the slaves - Spirits of the Sun
*The Slaves may well have gone and made one of the standout debuts of the year - a layered mass of ethereal vocals most reminiscent of Grouper with a brutal, doom-stricken underbelly that at turns sounds like My Bloody Valentine, Sunn O))) and Slowdive, massively recommended if you're into any of the above* The Portland, Oregon duo of Barbara Kinzle and Birch Cooper, aka The Slaves, operate in the void somewhere between shoegaze and doom, utilising elements that sound familiar but which keep on taking surprising turns into the unknown. Made up of two conjoined movements, the A-side starts off with an almost baroque vocal incantation, layered and lifted into the ether with a subtle nervous energy that is at once unnerving and blissful. Before you really get a grip of what you're listening to, the vocal disintegrates into almost nothing before re-formulating into a fuzzed-out drone that builds into what could be mistaken for a decimated, emaciated version of My Bloody Valentine's 'To Here Knows When'. It's a stunning, brilliantly executed statement of intent from a band who, up until a couple of weeks ago, we didn't even know existed. The flipside begins with a more ominous arrangement of chords, a forlorn buildup for those haunted vocals and what eventually becomes a deliriously heavy wash of noise that almost blew our eardrums the first time we played it through. It's an utterly riveting debut - If you've made space on your shelves for those long-promised new albums from Grouper or My Bloody valentine, "Spirits of the Sun" should see you through for a good long while...