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Norfolk & Western | Centralia (FILMguerrero)
You might not be able to judge a book by its cover, but this cd's packaging gives you big clues. Delicate, understated, enigmatically patterned, intriguing, beautifully textured and designed by Firefly. For this is a dazzlingly fragile work and I'm talking about the music here. Recorded on analogue equipment in an open warehouse in Portland, Oregon with a maximum of four of the six players on each track, the album barely goes above breathing pace and doesn't need to. Even breathing would be riotous compared to a track like Take Off Your Diamonds which causes you to stop all respiration for a couple of minutes so as to hear Adam Selzer's distant vocals. Even when they do rise up, aided by Amanda Lawrence's viola, they barely disturb the quiet. Haunting instrumentals sprinkle the album, shimmering like dust in a sunbeam, floating, defying gravity and mesmerising. Even the weight of Adam's words won't bring them to Earth any sooner as I'm Waiting In Writing shows, the voice borne aloft in the air, hovering like a phantom, as if the instruments and vocals are vying to see who can be the more delicate and it's a dead heat. Even with all this delicacy and quiet this won't just pass by unnoticed. It seeps onto your body, enveloping you in a gossamer blanket with a surprisingly high TOG factor. This is a warm sparseness, as if touched by a fleeting desert breeze on a cold day, soothing instead of chilling, comforting against the storm. If Lullaby For The Working Class' Blanket Warm was just that, then this should be called 'Thick Duvet', but that would ruin the whole cover concept. Listen and sigh.

Laurence Arnold
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001

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