REVIEW: Logh: Every Time a Bell Rings an Angel Gets His Wings
Logh: Every Time a Bell Rings an Angel Gets His Wings [Deep Elm/Bad Taste, 2002] (mp3s)
Three words? slow snow fury
This record is a sharp silver knife. When your hands are filled with ice, hot and cold become the same thing - Every Time A Bell Rings an Angel Gets His Wings is much the same: whitehot, icecold. It cuts through the morass of post-rock, emo and indie rock, a jet of winter that navigates like the North Wind. The album is ultimately only an imprint in the snow - the memory of the creature fading with the light - but it marks the emergence of a creative, potential-filled band.
Every Time... begins with an aesthetic highly reminiscent of Kepler's excellent 2002 release, Missionless Days. A voice speaks out of the grey, guitars and feedback slowly lighting the scenery. It is slow and low, murmurs and warm waves of sound: touches of Sparklehorse and Low. With "Yellow Lights Mean Slow Down, Not Speed Up", however, something more immediate rises from the haze. Guitar riffs begin to pulse, drums quicken, and a concise pop melody forms out of Mattias Friberg's oblique imagery. The tone remains wintry, lingering, but there is a firm heartbeat - this is song more than piece. Logh collects the smoke and melancholy from the works of Mogwai or Radiohead, but heats it - stirs it - making something sweet and tangible. Their work approaches the ear-warming efforts of Pinback and American Analog Set - sedate vocal harmonies and glowing guitars - but surpasses it, injecting a vast, nordic landscape. This is the Sweden that Logh calls home - snowflakes fluttering down, blown into flurries, scattered like ashes over the plains. Whereas "The Passage" does this in long, whinsome statements, "Note on Bathroom Mirror" - perhaps the album's finest track - is driven and intense, Friberg's ennui set to boil. The production is superb, noises emerging from behind others, the echo of horns, organ and distorted guitar. When the overdubbed voices unite, it is a startling moment, a finger of sun through the clouds.
The band is content, however, to perform for the listener, and not to them. "Lookalike" meanders - comfortable, pleasant - but does not arrest attention. Despite their richness, the songs are content to play in the background: their rewards blur and fade. The flutter of "The Bastards Have Landed", for instance, carries the listener into memory and night, away from the music itself. As the record closes, one realizes that one had been lost in it, not able to distinguish its ghostly landmarks. Particularly towards "Ghosts" and the mechanistic "Every Streetlight a Reminder", the songs have lost their immediacy, one's ears become unfocused... and it feels as if this is music one has heard before. The drift is unfortunate, a tragic side-effect of the band's consistency - but also a symptom of their apathy. There is room for more passion here, sustained over all of the album's forty minutes.
In spite of the record's gradual dilution, Logh's work remains eminently skillful. The songcraft is terrific, the emotional landscape deep and expansive. While the group avoids the indulgence and scope of Iceland's Sigur Ros, they act with equal confidence and a similar vision. These are songs of ice, heartbreak, and flickering lights.