Cyann & Ben Spring

[Gooom; 2003]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: space folk, post-rock
Others: post-Barrett/pre-Dark-Side Pink Floyd, Jessamine, Espers, Magyar Posse

This album is for people who aren't afraid of anthemic space rock motifs with a strong predilection for languid to tragic overtones. Nay, Spring is for people who crave music to brilliantly galvanize their nihilist sashays into oblivion. It's extremely seductive, particularly on the subtly enveloping "Melody" where female vocals are woven with the ever looming minor keys with great drum washes overlapping much static. This is yet more music to get lost in.

I say go for it. These days, the less political your music, the better. The music should always come first. This way, music can be window to something rather than a pushy emblem. Cyann & Ben may have something important to sing about, but I could care less just so long as the songs are absorbing. For the most part, Spring is absorbing and can be oddly replenishing.

You have to either forgive or be won over by heavily affected (and accented) vocals like those of Sigur Ros' singer, Jonsi. Both the male and female vocals can be quite wispy indeed, at times lovely while completely unobtrusive. This allows numbers like "Beyond Reality" to stretch out in their classic sci-fi flick submerged in murky lake water ambience.

"A Dance with the Devil" is a very French song, replete with the guy hissing things into the female siren's ear with a brusque, coffee-soaked whisper. This is a good place to let you know that this group is borderline operatic, with suave reverb-soaked trances supporting what sounds like the death of everything pure as portrayed by a pale slip of a woman throwing herself, with reckless abandon, to the naked eye of the storm. S'mellodramatic stuff.

"Neurotic Hope" is a less than twenty minute song that could be a powerful single on its own, let alone next to other decidedly exceptional works on this recording. I got to say that, given the distractingly euphoric sounds of M83's Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts, I had high expectations for this other Gooom label artist's release. Cyann & Benn may not be at all comparable to M83, omitting the fact that they both share an Air styled faux-naiveté approach to saccharine pastoral flourishes. Only where M83 goes space rocked digital rainbow, Cyann & Benn goes space rocked chamber music.

"Neurotic Hope," "Siren Song," and "Buick to the Moon" being highlights, I happily recommend this to anyone who can switch from Pulp to The Smiths to Flying Saucer Attack and then be ready for Pulp again. Just be warned about the occasionally wince-inducing vocal turns.

1. Buick to the Moon
2. I Can't Pretend
3. Selected Ambient Work
4. Siren Song
5. Behind Her Smiling Eyes
6. Melody
7. Beyond Reality
8. A Dance with the Devil
9. Neurotic Hope