Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cranes - "Cranes" CD

For nearly 20 years now, British group Cranes, fronted by helium-voiced pixie Alison Shaw, have delighted, charmed, and baffled audiences, all the while making some curiously progressive records that spanned the gap between industrial, ethereal, and indie rock. This self-titled, and self-released 2008 gem signals a bit of a transformation for the band. Beginning as a dark and visceral, almost gothy guitar group in the late 80's, 'Cranes' shows the band embracing fully the more soothing ambient electronic sound they hinted at with their previous release. And it gels perfectly. 'Worlds' is hopeful and airily introspective - just a lovely track that actually recalls their earlier work (the acoustic guitars), but with stronger songwriting. The rest of the album floats along in a similar way. 'Panorama', performed in French, is a haunting piece that elegantly hints at a darker undertone. 'Sleepwalking' is a particularly stunning arctic classical/ambient piece that's of proper soundtrack quality, and the closer, 'High And Low', is a delicate pop song that sums up the unique and surreal mood that Cranes have excelled at for so long. I think this is their best work in years, and anyone interested in beautiful and mature ambient pop would do well to seek this out. (Dadaphonic)

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