500mg Apocatastisis

[Three Lobed; 2007]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: lo-fi, avant folk, sitar love-making
Others: Bardo Pond, Ravi Shankar, Acid Mothers Temple

Apocatastisis escapes the previous trappings of Michael Gibbons’ heavier work to focus on music at its most primordial: lush textures and classical instrumentation. Shedding the sludge of Baikal’s recent album and the psychedelic fuzz of Bardo Pond, Gibbons taps into his inner Krishna, yielding an album of beautiful guitar odes amid East-meets-West experimentation.

The delicate guitar lullabies of “Ondanata” and “Angela” will grab any ear keen to the sound of vibrant strums and pastel plucking. These are songs of warm freedom; days running through flowering fields and empty streets as a child free from worldly commitments. However, all good things must end. “Ondanata” succumbs to the static of “Desert Codex.” A desperate and empty slide guitar elegy, “Desert Codex” provides the counterpoint to the happy times of “Ondanata.” The arid scratch of chord changes couples with the hollow production to create the desolation of those same fields and streets, as warmth turns to cold and happiness fades into bitterness.

Apocatastisis finishes off its exploration of the highest highs and lowest lows with the synergetic “Stray Thoughts on Death and Satan.” The finale combs every nook and cranny of Apocatastisis to forge a downtrodden, yet triumphant farewell. Tape manipulations, ghostly effects, and clipped speech blend into walls of warped guitar and tabla. Apocatastisis’ penultimate meditation on life and death provides a fitting final thought as twisted and morally skewed as Jerry Springer’s.

Gibbons may have traded in sludge for solitude, but the product still remains equally on-edge. It may not be new to musically tread thoughts of life and death or happiness and sorrow, but the approach takes those meditations into a forgotten plane. As clichéd as sitar and tabla may be when dissecting such issues, Apocatastisis is able destroy and reconstruct those sounds into a new being. When all is said and done, the music does more to evoke thought and feeling than it does to break new ground, but I certainly wouldn't hold that against it.

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