Metallic Falcons Desert Doughnuts

[Voodoo-EROS; 2006]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: slowcore, cinematic, shoegazer, lo-fi
Others: Nico, Le Volume Courbe, CocoRosie, A Silver Mount Zion

Self-described as "soft metal," with appearances by Greg Rogrove (Tarantula A.D.), Antony (as in Johnsons), Jana Hunter, and Devendra Banhart, the collaboration between CocoRosie soul-sista Sierra Casady and Matteah Baim seemingly holds a lot of promise. But like so many side projects and all-star jams, indie cred and special guests will only carry an idea so far. On paper, Desert Doughnuts sounds like fixings for a good-ol'-time, metal-death-folk jam, if there ever was one. And as it would turn out, there never was one.

Their songs are generally made up of one repetitive motif, drenched in reverb, with ample space for other textures to drift in and out. The vocals are beautiful (as to be expected with this clan) and sound best when they aren't clouded by droning guitars and heavy drums. In fact, everything on Desert Doughnuts sounds best when rock 'n' roll instrumentation doesn't meddle with their mojo. Metallic Falcons' most intriguing moments happen when things are the most spare. To their credit, there is actually a lot of silence and space throughout the album, but while they clearly could have created a unique sonic journey through abstraction, Desert Doughnuts limits itself by its attempt at a song-based album. The ebb and flow between sound collage and song never fully settles into itself, and despite interesting elements in both, it comes off as a meandering vanity piece.

Even considering genre-redefining bands like Sunn 0))) and Corrupted, the term "soft metal" is used in the most abstract sense possible and sounds suspiciously like a paradox. Metal is strong (and a good conductor of electricity), and this duo sounds delicate and fragile. They perform lovely, cinematic funeral dirges, and perhaps this album best works as an imaginary soundtrack. Even so, Desert Doughnuts is hollow - the sprawling atmospheres that pour out of the two are indeed stunning, but sadly this angle only offers very effective mood-lighting at best.

1. Journey
2. Airships
3. Nighttime & Morning
4. Snake Song
5. Desert Cathedral
6. Silent Night
7. Berry Metal
8. After Metal (Sound of Stars)
9. Pale Dog
10. A heart of Birdsong
11. Misty Song
12. Ocean
13. Disparu
14. Four Hearts