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Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Bedhead - 'The Dark Ages' (Trance Syndicate)

'The Dark Ages' last a few hours according to the lyrics and that's all the time that's needed to erase memories, but mine will last forever. My college years are filled with them - memories of listening to this and Beheaded and some Low albums at 3 AM and thinking about how amazing it is that there are rock bands who like to be quiet and nuanced. "Perfect music for 3 AM!" I would always say, certainly moreso than the KLF's take. Plus there's memories of my own hands, snaked along a Mexican Telecaster neck in dingy basements as my fingers pluck out slow, snaking melodies lifted from Bedhead records (not note-for-note, but lifting the general feel, dig?). 'The Dark Ages' might be my favorite Bedhead song; the drums pound along with a steady beat and switch to a ride-cymbal heavy pattern during the chorus, which is when the leaves fall from treetops and let light into the forest. By the end it's crescendoed into a crunchier, more powerful version of the same chords, but it resists the temptation to totally rock out and cuts things off right when the fire is in sight. 'Inhume' also does the slow build, instrumentally, with feedback entering like a muted trumpet. The chords shift slowly, emerging with distinct personalities, and this is music for guitar bands, indeed. Maybe one of the reasons I never got into Mogwai was that their quiet/loud thing always seemed too easy and much less controlled than Bedhead's approach. Actually I probably never thought about it that much -- really, I was just ready move on by the time Mogwai hit the scene. There's only three songs on The Dark Ages but all three are fully satisfying. 'Any Life' is the last and it brings back the slight country and western tendencies that have crept up in the past two CDs. It's just a twangy guitar lead, almost playing the role of a pedal steel, but it's enough to flavour this tune, a gentle vocal-driven meditation that ends this EP on an understated note. But these guys are the masters of understatement, after all.

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