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Jason Molina | Pyramid Electric Co. (Secretly Canadian)
Jason Molina's band Songs:Ohia have been lazily compared to Will Oldham and his various incarnations since the release of their self titled debut in the mid '90s. While perhaps those initial comparisons were justified, subsequent releases have seen Molina ease down a very different road to the cleaner, more polished one Oldham has chosen.
This release, his first full length under his own name, is in many ways a companion piece to last year's 'Magnolia Electric Company', the darker more sinister sister to the reflective, positive mood conveyed by that Steve Albini produced Crazy Horse style rocker. For the most part accompanied by understated electric guitar or piano, the stark production, this time by the equally ubiquitous Mike Mogis suits the minimalist songs brilliantly. Much like the harrowing 'Ghost Tropic' album, the songs on 'Pyramid Electric Co.' stretch out the melodies and notes almost to breaking point. The opening, nine minute title track sets the tone for the record, with its chiming, distorted guitar, coming on at times like a one man Codeine. The whole record has a feeling of improvisation, the songs seeming so effortless, like an outpouring of emotion - the "endless blues" of which Molina sings on Red Comet Dust.
By no means easy listening, (but you know that already if you're hip to Molina's mission), this is one of the most haunting examples of the comforting power of musical melancholy you are likely to hear this year.

James Hindle
March-April 2004