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Double Leopards - A Hole Is True

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Artist: Double Leopards

Album: A Hole Is True

Label: Troubleman Unlimited

Review date: Jan. 25, 2006

Ambient innovator Brian Eno has suggested that by listening repeatedly to any stretch of recorded sound it can be ‘learned.’ Traffic-choked streets, crowded bars, class-five rapids, V-8 engines: all have patterns, internal rhythms, interlocking grooves of tumbling sound that recording can capture. A Hole is True, the fifth full-length from Brooklyn’s Double Leopards, defies Eno’s dictum, as its three droning glimpses of a mawing void drift at an unreachable hermetic distance, reposing then tantalizing, yet ultimately slipping out of reach.

To approach these tracks, unleash the metaphors: a room without doors for exit, much less entrance; a story in search of a narrative arc; a serpent devouring its own tail; the horizon viewed through the business end of a telescope; the endless switchbacks of René Daumal’s Mount Analogue. These are songs without structures, sounds without origins, all adrift in a dreamed celestial vacuum. But those metaphors just glance sideways. To burrow in borrow a metaphor from the poet John Ashberry: for A Hole is True Double Leopards dip their bucket into the underground river winding its way through the quartet’s collective sub-conscious, and pull up a sample of what swims there.

For A Hole is True’s entirety, extended echoing chants, feral night-critter baying, factory hum, mechanical chug, radio static discharge - lead nowhere to some unknowable point. The drifting audio debris travels not by repetition, not linear locomotion; they just revolve and circulate among each other, moving in and out of sight As for arrangement, these dense, undefined shapes are massed as if on an expressionistic canvas. The palette, though, is limited, as Double Leopards paint here in broad, thick smears of deep-earth browns, midnight blues, morose purples and brooding reds.

One senses that this is agnostic music, as full of doubt as it is of belief, its whole essence only guessed at, but never glimpsed. One also imagines that a listener might be agnostic about A Hole is True. It’s not mixed loud enough to bypass the brain, but it’s too ambiguous to satisfy repeated and reasoned analysis. It’s difficult without being complex, dissonant without being harsh. It just….is.

By Matthew Wuethrich

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