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Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions | Bavarian Fruit Bread (Rough Trade)
Having traded in Mazzy Star-sidekick David Roback for former My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm O Ciosoig ("temporarily," is the official word), Sandoval has outrageously made what may be the best album of her entire career. That is not to say 'Bavarian Fruit Bread' is a radical departure from her previous efforts ?? it's not as if you won't recognise her voice or anything. Instead, she has chosen to dig deeper into the sounds that she has explored over the last ten years ?? the gothic and sullen, yet strangely comforting noise that made Mazzy Star so attractive to many (and a really boring one to others). On opening song Drop she turns the Jesus and the Mary Chain-track into a lovely, freak country-hit, and sets the tone for an amazing ride. Suzanne follows, a remarkable track reminiscent of a Velvet Underground surrounded by wide open prairies rather than the cruel asphalt streets of New York: "Suzanne is waiting on your doorway / But all she does is waste your time / And she looks just like my sister / But she feels just like my mind" ?? all sung over a hypnotic two-chord guitar strum. The whole album has a remarkable looseness to it, without ever sounding casual or incidental. Sandoval seems to be aiming for a fuller sound than ever before, consciously exploring the meaning in and of repetition, this is even slower-moving music than any of its predecessors. Finally, it seems, she has allowed herself to dwell on the moods created by her music as it swirls and unfolds before her and us, developing new textures with every replay. For evidence, try Feeling of Gaze, with Ji-Young Moon's cello lending a poignant and remarkable beauty and stillness to the track. On the Low and the title track are other stand-out performances. However, nothing touches the last, untitled track; a slow, churning piece pulling together everything that's come before it, putting both the album's panoramic overview into perspective, and allowing the listener to make sense of Sandoval's strange and beautiful world. An amazing achievement and a beautiful listening experience, this album demands stuck in your CD-player for a very long time.

Stein Haukland
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002