Belong, Common Era

Lee Smith

By Lee Smith

on 01.05.11 in Reviews

While New Orleans electronic duo Belong's first album was similar in style to the majestic, entropic dark ambience of Tim Hecker and Fennesz, this follow up sees them focusing on a more structured, rhythmic style of hazy hypno-pop.

Focusing on a structured, rhythmic style of hazy hypno-pop

From the get go, Common Era makes clear its debt to the usual giants of shoegaze, as walls of distorted guitars and floating vocals surge atop motorik bass and muffled drums in classic My Bloody Valentine fashion. The echoing fuzz continues on "Never Came Close," a kind of ghostly echo of early Depeche Mode at their least pessimistic, and is strung out across "A Walk," where barely-there lyrics and minimalist percussion are wrapped in endless layers of lushness.

As close friends and occasional collaborators with fellow New Orleans nu-gazers Telefon Tel Aviv, it's unsurprising that "Perfect Life" is a kind of smudged sister cut to TTA's emotronic pop anthem, "Helen of Troy." But where that band glistens and polishes each sonic surface until it sparkles, Belong goes the other way, swamping a simple clutch of ingredients in primordial fog. Indeed, on tracks like "Different Heart" and "Common Era," the static almost becomes the point, as the original songs spiral further and further away amid the abyssal clouds of thick reverb. Densely rendered but ethereally light, Common Era glimmers like a burnt out star, slowly echoing through space, and leaving just the barest trace of afterglow in the cold night sky.