REVIEW No Eleven : Lunar Western
The light strumming, broken glass, tight drums, and subtle synths of "Yelling Devil" initiate the launch sequence for No Eleven's latest release titled Lunar Western. "Half Step" is next, merging piano and subtle buzzing noises with Ksandre's haunting voice. This is one of the highlights of the disc. Goldfrapp's legendary Felt Mountain nearly springs to mind, although the vocals here are more authentic and down-to-earth, despite the lunar theme of the album title. No Eleven has this great knack for bringing subtle yet powerful synth sequences into the chorus without pushing the song into a strictly electronic field.
"Inside My Head" picks up the pace somewhat, weaving frenetic lo-fi background sequences and drum'n'bass inspired percussion over string-driven melodies and overdriven vocal echoes. Next, we find the band "Drinking Wine", with all of the melancholy introspection that only alcohol can produce. Droning high tones, muted rhythms, vinyl residue, and wobbly guitars compliment the tone of the electric organ and pensive vocals perfectly. "Sorry" follows, treating us to a deliciously simple and delightfully somber little ballad, complete with those wonderful distorted synth lines that barely bob to the surface at just the right times. Certainly no need to apologize for this one!
Having dispensed with all of those weighty tears, "Clouds" is next - an upbeat and contemporary composition that eventually verges into techno club territory with its heavier 4-4 beat, space textures, and brutal ring modulation. Now that we're in club land, we may as well get "High". This minimal song tick-tocks as Ksandre wafts over fuzzy vinyl and reverse sounds. "Drive Me" follows, with a stellar sense of negative space, pulsing chimes, and some great fuzzy bass synths courtesy of MT. At times, it feels a little like the seductive trip hop grooves of Hooverphonic. "Atlantide" then tip toes in like a child's dream, a light breeze showering the windchimes on the back porch with drops of cold rain. Strong vocals drive the song through the depths of forgotten memories, keeping any need for real percussion at bay, and a poor viola seems to get mangled in the process. Ending the disc are the songs "Warm Rain" and "Destroyed", which further express the sound and theme of earlier tracks.
If, based on the album title, you were expecting to hear some sort of spaghetti western samples being reassembled and broadcast by Sputnik, you may be disappointed. But then, the soulful pieces presented here have so much more to offer! Songs like "Half Step" and "Sorry" are wonderfully detailed and enjoyable. As I mentioned already, fans of Hooverphonic and early Goldfrapp would be amiss to miss this. My only slight complaint is that some of the songs start to sound the same as you near the end of the album - so much that I was expecting one or two to be listed as remixes. But any release with 7 or 8 solid tracks out of 11 deserves special praise in my book, particularly in our current world of short attention spans and one-off digital singles.