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The Unmist | Ryne Speaks (Bubblesound)
Although they made their debut on cred-label Smalltown Supersound back in 1998, The Unmist remain a well-kept secret outside of Norway's oh-so tiny noise-rock community. All that, though, may change with this latest album, their most cohesive release yet. Drawing on the soundscapes of Slint and Unsane, the trio move slowly throughout their dark and gloomy compositions, sounding neither too precious nor particularly coy about their 'art,' giving off the impression of a tense but wide-open sound, swaying and upbeat in spite of the apparent textural darkness running throughout. The guitars tie neatly in with the half-buried vocals, underlining the impression that the lyrics' prime function are tonal rather than lyrical, while the drums and the bass form intricate counterpoints to the hypnotic melodies. Floating Bridge evidently references 'Daydream Nation'-era Sonic Youth, while Halo-Glow and the stuttering heads-down rock of, er, Rest Yr Cowboyboots on My Submissive Ass share more than the occasional nod with the heavier side of Mogwai. Equally indebted to subdued post-hardcore cleverness as to shoegazing post-rock, The Unmist sometimes fall between all stools, seemingly unsure of just what it is they're trying to achieve with their music. And it is this remarkable failure to thread the paths of their heroes that, somewhat ironically, serves to set them apart. 'Ryne Speaks' may not be the best album that The Unmist could have come up with at this point in time. But chances are that it is better than the one they actually tried to make.
CWAS #12 - Summer 2003