Cul de Sac

Ecim | Strange Attractors
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  January 8, 2007
3.0 3.0 Stars
When Cul de Sac first released this album, 15 years ago on Rough Trade, they were peers of Sonic Youth, aural and textural spelunkers with a knack for discovering the emotional explosions in colliding, fricative, and harmonious slabs of sound. Opener “Death Kit Train” even has the same thrumming forward momentum that’s become a Youth signature. But from there bandleader Glenn Jones turned his group away from the tectonic compositional style of Glenn Branca, Harry Partch, and other formalists and toward the back roads of American roots music. So even Eastern modal workouts like “The Moon Scolds the Morning Star” have a little Appalachia in them. Fans will dig hearing the band’s lovely and jarring early recording of “The Portland Cement Company at Monolith, California,” a John Fahey tune that remains a cornerstone of their repertoire, as well as “Nico’s Dream,” which has a chiming, buzzing melody that grows in tiny Eno-like steps until its staticky conclusion. There are also three bonus tracks — the brawny “Cul de Sac,” the slide-guitar-and-effects free jam “The Bee Who Would Not Work,” and the throw-away bass stroll “Negligee” — that will tickle completists. These days the band are a more fiery ensemble, less dependent on the musical leadership of Jones’s guitar, but ECIM remains riveting, jarring, and provocative — a local classic with enduring global influence.
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