Boomkat Product Review:
Immune Recordings edition of this transmission from Zelienople, a band from Chicago who have a certain knack of making that other-worldly folk ambience we've all grown so addicted to sound totally singular and incredibly beautiful. Maybe it's because they aren't afraid of occasionally breaching into the odd pop structure or two that 'Stone Academy' is so inviting, in fact if you hear it at a distance you might even mistake it for a decomposed cassette recording of an old Pavement record (maybe). The band are no newcomers to the scene having notched up a number of full-lengths and ep's on various labels, and I've been following their work for some time, but 'Stone Academy' is their most complete to date, blending their vocal tracks (as heard on 2004's 'Sleeper Coach') with aspects of drone and haunting minimalism which they perfected on the PseudoArcana 3" release 'Ghost Ship'. Beginning with the slowed down bliss of 'Plaster Dog' we are instantly transported into a world of empty rooms and downturned lips - something I imagine might best be filmed by Andrei Tarkovsky, subtle, slow moving yet somehow inviting. Every scrape of the guitar or knock of the bass seems so defined and sculpted, sucking you into its deep indulgent ambience, yet this is not merely another textured ambient record. The second track 'F*ck Everything' sounds like a lost pop song, with vocals to prove it - admittedly it sounds like it might have been recorded in a large metal box, complete with used meathooks swaying in the background, but the pop sentiment is there; verse, chorus and swaying, noise laden verse. I really think this is one of the finest things Digitalis have put their name to, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the band are very likely to go on to much bigger things in the future. It might not be splashed all over the pages of online magazines and blogs, but 'Stone Academy' is a quietly paced sleeper hit, so give it room to breathe and reap the rewards.