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Coelacanth - The Glass Sponge

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Artist: Coelacanth

Album: The Glass Sponge

Label: 23five, Inc.

Review date: Nov. 16, 2003

The choice of a band name carries certain implications. One would not, for example, accept a band called Mastodon if they played Belle & Sebastian-style tweephonics. Not even if it was presented ironically. So when I saw this project – band, whatever you care to call – it I expected to feel like I was on the bottom of the Marianas Trench in a submersible, staring some Cambrian-era plated fish in its beady eyes. And I was not disappointed, Coelacanth keeps their end of the implied bargain.

Loren Chasse, of Jewelled Antler fame, is one half of Coelacanth along with Jim Haynes, Wire contributor and record guy at Aquarius in San Francisco. And though I am hesitant to recommend further Chasse-related work to anyone who earns less than the minimum NBA rookie salary or has less time to kill than Ed McMahon, the quality of this music certainly marks Chasse as a sound arranger of no mean skills. Take my word for it when I tell you that I listen to more aquatic-themed ambient music than the average bear. And most of it is, to work the metaphor to death, watery and weak. Chasse and Haynes inject some real grit into The Glass Sponge. The seven tracks are organized around shimmers and curtains of guitar-sourced sounds, and spotted with compact grains of noise. You get the impression of clouds of plankton, black plumes of superheated chemicals and the odd shaft of light penetrating the briny deep. There is a feeling of both claustrophobic pressure and suspension here, as the sounds appear and then recede across the listening field.

By Bruce Adams

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