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Chuzzlewit | Secret Affinities (www.chuzzlewit.net)
From the dark, turbulent images on the cover to the sense of mood and timing on the album itself, it's obvious that a lot of care has gone into Chicago-based Chuzzlewit's new CD-R, initially available only in limited quantities. The twelve songs on offer usher in an atmosphere of calm and stillness laced with a sub-current of violence. Half-whispered vocals, ominous piano chords repeated slowly over basic drum programming - you get the picture, lo-fi minimalism of a high calibre. This is music that hides by itself in a dark room on a Saturday night and won't let you come in. You need to be persistent and with repeated listens, melodies start asserting themselves and a slow form starts to take shape around the hypnotic wash of keyboard textures that make up the basic sound. Metaphors of the sea abound in the lyrics creating a certain cohesiveness that adds to the atmospheric swirl of the music. Mostly, it works. When it doesn't, as in the frantic drum machine pulse and submerged vocals of Sea Change, they sound like a post-rock Belle and Sebastian and no-one really needs that, but at their best this music catches you unaware, slowly dragging you into its pulse.
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001