A muscular and soaring second offering
If there was a complaint about this Los Angeles band’s last album ‘Prehistoricisms’ it was that it sometimes crossed the line into selfindulgent musicianship, falling into the ‘where’s the song?’ category one time too many. ‘Valley Of Smoke’ addresses that from the off on ‘Elegy’, which not only displays a more cohesive songwriting sense incorporating cyclic guitar swirls, but also the heartfelt warmth of the fretless bass alongside the skittering and complex rhythms. That it’s a monstrously heavy tune doesn’t hurt matters either! The progressive edge and flash musicianship still reigns with drummer Danny Walker and bassist Joe Lester, but the organic looseness the duo attach to their intricacy is matched by robust and layered guitar interplay (‘Above’) and Sacha Dunable has added a muscular and soaring dimension to his vocals. And despite the heavier start, ‘Valley Of Smoke’, with ‘Core Relations’ and the double drum jam of the title track, still has those moments that make you want to climb to the bottom of a valley, lie on the grass and smoke unjustly illicit substances while decoding cloud shapes in the afternoon sky; that is, when you’re not ducking for cover from the tie-dyed, mathematical anvils of ‘Sunderance’ and ‘Miasma’.