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Easy listening for the true enthusiast - 67%

differer, November 24th, 2008

Two tracks improvised in the studio during the ‘Pentecost III’ sessions. Well. Not that this can be said for certain based on a listen only, I must say I was not surprised when this little detail came to my attention. It should be easy to understand, then, that this release has little value for the average listener; die-hard fans will naturally find it fascinating.

In all fairness though, while the musical themes here are rather simplistic, they are developed decently. It is, at times, simply amazing what one can do to a straightforward riff by adding some airy lead guitar and varied drum work. Stylewise, this is not far from the more relaxed parts of the following ‘The Silent Enigma’, giving a hard-to-define impression of a “slow”, almost meditative approach to the music. As far as the actual songs go, they start with an instrument playing a theme (simple enough for everyone to grasp instantly) that the others gradually pick up on and elaborate slightly, with an occasional half-time feel on drums serving as variation. After some less-than-prolific vocals (though I usually enjoy Darren White’s voice), the thing is brought to an end without making a big deal out of it – the word ‘nonchalant’ comes to mind.

While all this is more or less typical for improvised music (I’m far from being an expert), Anathema manage to pull it off quite nicely. Both the tracks work at the very least acceptably. If one were to imagine these as being fully improvised one-takes (which I doubt is the case), it is easy to picture Danny or Vincent giving a tiny nod to Darren when it is time for him to open his mouth. The mental image alone is well worth the listen.

Still, all things considered, I find it hard to see a reason for a release like this, especially if we think of what stage in their career they were at. I can’t imagine Anathema being “artistic” enough at that point to actually want to explore the sound and capabilities of the band as a unit (a frequent reason for studio improvisation), but it’s equally difficult to think they would have done this just for fun.

Even if the music is certainly not bad in any way, I find that most of us can survive perfectly well without hearing this. However, if you happen to think ‘The Silent Enigma’ is the best album ever recorded, I see no reason why you wouldn’t want to get your hands on this one.