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Published: 2003/01/23
by Chris Gardner

Rule #3 – Escapade

Submergence 5004
They call it space rock. I don’t have a problem with that. I’m not
entirely sure what it means, but I’ll go with it.
Rule #3 opens with a 19-minute float. "A Symphony of Sirens" is
rife with treated sounds — extended drones, caterwauling guitars, grating
pick slides, a sneaky little glockenspiel, and one bizarre gurgling sound.
The cavernous sense of sound lends credence to the space rock moniker; these
are raw and basic sounds, soaring arcs of sound that maintain themselves
across distances.
This music feels fabricated rather than played — each note carefully
modulated and manipulated. Instruments listed include "prepared guitars"
and "processed piccolo bass". Huh? So the music is treated. Still this is
distinctly improvisational music. There are giant yawns between thoughts at
times, but everything happens in the moment.
Some tracks, like "Circumference" seem to stagnate, circling the same idea
over its twelve minute expanse. Others travel weightlessly, drifting for
minutes off the bounce of one idea – all giant moonman leaps and exaggerated
slo-mo descents.
But don’t let the easy arc idea fool you — this music is not the placid
peaceful music of the spheres. Sounds great. Degrees of static are laced
into the notes, and the repetition of some sounds may just be enough
to… well, enough to drive a man clean over the cliffs of insanity. There,
I said it.
Given the context, the earthy marimba that opens the closer, "And Then All
Silence Was Crushed", is disarming. Of course, after some placid rhythmic
moments, the song lives up to its title, stacking a soundscape that leaves
no gaps, an impregnable wall of sound that looms menacingly above you and
threatens to scare you back into your crib. And all the while, the marimba
plinks along beneath the behemoth, taunting you with its childlike
insouciance. For lack of better words, it kinda freaks me out.
"Rule #3" is not for the faint-hearted. There is rarely a cogent thread or
theme to cling to in this wide open improvisational terrain. The listener
dangles, suspended within the sonic landscape, which in the end is the
album’s greatest strength.

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