September 07, 2006

Red Sparowes/Battle of Mice/Made Out of Babies "Triad"

Triad is a fascinating collection of dark, heavy music, and it highlights the work of three artists: Red Sparowes, Battle of Mice, and Made Out of Babies. All three bands are connected by sharing common members, as well as sharing the same label, Neurot Recordings.

The first band, Red Sparowes, is a group that's currently receiving a great deal of "buzz," but that's quite all right. From the two long-titled, heavy-handed instrumentals that are similar to Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed! You Black Emperor, it's really easy to understand what all the fuss is about. Their songs are beautiful, quiet epics; both contain a cinematic element that I really like. Most impressive is "Buildings Began to Stretch Wide Across the Sky, and the Air Filled with a Reddish Glow," which is indeed as haunting and disturbing as the title would suggest.

Battles of Mice and Made Out of Babies are two vehicles for vocalist Julie Christmas, but both bands are quite different. Battle of Mice's music is dire, slow, and disturbing—not unlike what Red Sparowes does, only with vocals. Christmas sings with a little-girl voice that's reminiscent of Cranes' Alison Shaw, but she tempers it with a scream that's as piercing and as haunting as Kat Bjelland's. Both of Battle of Mice's songs are edits, and they do feel somewhat short, even though both go well over the five minute mark. Personally, "The Lamb and the Labradour" is the best song of their two, even though "Sleep and Dream" is equally disturbing. Christmas has a knack for singing in a way that's almost storytelling in nature; both songs could be called "goth" if that wasn't such an annoyingly stupid term.

Made Out of Babies, however, is a completely different beast. It's more of a post-punk/some-might-say-metal project, and instead of setting a mood with dark, drudgy accompaniment, with this band, Christmas is angry, the music behind her is angry, and it definitely stands in contrast to Battles of Mice. At first it didn't move me that much, but after a few listens, it started to really grow on me. "Proud to Drown" is a great song.

Though the packaging itself is impressive—originally, Triad was released as a lavish three-single 7" set—this record might not serve the already converted, as it provides a sample of Battle of Mice and Made Out of Babies' forthcoming releases this fall, as their selections also appear on their albums. Only the Red Sparowes' songs are exclusive; they are two live recordings taken from a radio broadcast. Triad nevertheless serves its purpose quite well, as it certainly serves as a nice introduction to all three artists.

Stream the entire record by clicking here!

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