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Listening

Two Lone Swordsmen, From the Double Gone Chapel

Isn’t this supposed to be techno? Er, electronica or whatever? And yet it sounds so un-manufactured. So handmade and crafted, these dark, brooding anthems that seem (intentionally) barely held together by tinny wire and sheer concentration. Throbbing digi-bass riffs and paralyzed vocals recall something Joy Division-y or Bauhaus-esque playing to a hollow warehouse, a single mic placed in the center of the room to catch any manner of noise that passes outside—not just the music at hand. It’s experimental, surely, but only insofar as experimental music got to about 15 to 20 years ago. That is to say, it’s retro avant-garde, and thus extremely engaging music now, in 2004. Based on how fresh and new From the Double Gone Chapel sounds today, perhaps the time for the noodlings of Cabaret Voltaire, Coil, Throbbing Gristle, et al, has finally arrived.

“Kamanda’s Reponse,” for instance, is absolutely brutal with a head-bobbing beat made from what sounds like a shorted-out freight-elevator button, or at least something else that should be equally unenjoyable to listen to. But yet you can’t get enough of it. “Play the buzzing thing again!” That’s exactly what you’d say.

Or in “Stack Up,” where it sounds like a drill whirring away. No, it’s definitely not a real drill, but maybe this is another example of how Two Lone Swordsmen get experimentalism right. Instead of using the real environmental sounds—as the earlier avant-gardists might have used a real drill to make the same sound heard here—Two Lone Swordsmen identify how to make it sound the right way. That is, like a drill—but better, more musical.

But none of these sounds are plugged in extraneously. No, every pop, click, and whirry is a delicate element within the music. And the music…From the Double Gone Chapel is at once real, provocative, appealing, and stunningly beautiful. An achievement for them, an essential listen for us.

biopic

Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack

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