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My Cat Is An Alien - ...Ascends the Sky

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Artist: My Cat Is An Alien

Album: ...Ascends the Sky

Label: Rebis

Review date: Nov. 15, 2006

The Whitened Sepulchre reissue series is an offshoot of Jeremy Rebis’ self-titled label, an attempt by the Chicagoan to rescue from the OOP void some of his favorite recordings of recent years. Rebis, half of the duo Number None, initially built his label’s catalog with releases of his own design, both in Number None, and solo as Noah Opponent. Italian duo My Cat is an Alien did the same on their own Opax Records, self-releasing recordings in CD-R format, often in limited editions. …Ascends the Sky, birthed in 2001, was the fifth MCIAA (as the official abbreviation seems to go) release on Opax, and is long out of print. Rebis, however, is the salvation of those unhip to the ways of the Opalio brothers back in 2001, resurrecting the album as a full-fledged CD release, and appending it with an unreleased 20-minute bonus track, oddly sequenced at the opening of the album.

…Ascends the Sky has William Blake’s “Morning” as its inspiration, at least lyrically, though the seemingly uplifting tone of Blake’s original doesn’t make much headway in the Opalios’ murky haze, except near the end of the more contemporary bonus track, where the sun burns through the fog. Much of …Ascends the Sky, especially the original material, is rife with a languid melancholy, a feeling that permeates the gentle guitar melodies as well as the disc’s more abstract segments. The vocal rendition of Blake’s poem appears first in its full form before its final line, the title of the album, reappears in a mournful refrain as the disc expires. The lines are sung flatly, almost spoken, obscured by the music and, without a crib sheet, rather unintelligible. The musical accompaniment consists of simple drones with sparse guitar strumming; from this point on, the melodies that opened the original release are a stranger to My Cat is an Alien, and the repetitive figure that occupies the majority of the last track is all the conventional foothold the listener is offered amongst tinny drones, bells, and various forms of scrape and scuttle.

The addition of the new material at the album’s opening is a questionable move, not only because of chronology, but because if, as is recommended, one listens to the disc in its entirety as one long piece, with track markings only for convenience, …Ascends the Sky is a unbalanced beast. The first track, while not a complete departure from the aesthetic of its ancestors, fleshes out the sound in both mass and instrumentation, like a bulky doppelganger of its leaner self, and while it’s not unwieldy music on its own, this newer material, when affixed at the front of the original release, doesn’t make for a smooth introduction. The resulting mix of old and new is a top heavy one, …Ascends the Sky would likely have been better served if reissued as it was originally released. The desire to augment recordings with bonus material is often a laudable one, but when these new tracks alter the feeling of the original too distinctly, their necessity is questionable. Still, The Whitened Sepulchre series has listeners’ best interests at heart, and those who’ve been unable to hear …Ascends the Sky until now are likely grateful for Rebis’ effort, despite the curatorial missteps.

By Adam Strohm

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