Stars Of The Lid - And Their Refinement Of The Decline 3xLP


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Label: Kranky

Our Review:

Since their first record Music For Nitrous Oxide from 1995 up to their beloved The Tired Sounds Of Stars Of The Lid from 2001, it's been fascinating to observe their sonic development, from 4-track recordings of murky bedroom guitar drones to their current sound of richly produced, almost orchestral compositions of reverberant swells.

The Stars Of The Lid sound has obviously become much more clear and well defined and polished, much from Nitrous Oxide is still present, albeit in slightly altered form. Stars Of The Lid were always about swells, with the ebbtide of melodies and compositions played out over expansive stretches of oceanic shimmer. Notes aren't just played, they begin as tiny sparkles that gradually grow into thick massive rumbles, before fading away again. Oceanic is definitely an apt descriptor, like some epic dimly lit sonic sea swirling and churning, sometime tranquil and barely moving, other times heaving and tumultuous. It's so completely epic while at the same time managing somehow to be pastoral and contemplative and breathtakingly beautiful.

In the early days it was just 2 guitars and a four track, and the sound reflected that, much more gritty and the mood a lot darker. And only now it seems that the band is able to fully realize the sound they have been hearing, and essentially creating, all along. Stars Of The Lid incorporated guitars here and there. This is after all still the root of their sound, but they seem to be overshadowed by the other instruments, heavy on the strings as well as a surprising arsenal of horns, and a children's choir! And the results are divine. Many of the tracks do sound like bits of modern classical compositions stretched out into languorous stretches of muted drone and subtle shimmer, like watching the planets from outer space, observing the epic drifts of solar systems and an infinity of cosmic interactions. Others definitely reference more earthly sonic treasures, such as "Apreludes (In C Sharp Major)" which has some serious Morricone going on, and "Don't Bother They're Here" references Scott Tuma's washed out guitar work in Souled American. But whatever subtle flavor is introduced into each track, the sound is definitely and distinctly Stars Of The Lid. Their shift to a triple LP also seems to suit them, allowing their slow burning soft swell compositions plenty of time to sprawl and spread and evolve into epic and soul stirring soundscapes.