I first heard Labradford when I picked up their first album, Prazision, when I went to see Low in concert last November. After listening to Prazision, I was pretty disappointed. I thought this was supposed to be a hallmark of icy ambience. Their music seemed a little pretentious and failed to hold my interest. While there were a few bright spots, overall the CD was destined to gather dust on my shelf.
But I kept hearing people rave about them, so I thought that maybe I was missing out on something. I mean, not everyone could be wrong. After seeing this album several times in a local indie music store (well, the only indie music store in Lincoln), I plunked down the money for it. I am so glad I did.
“Phantom Channel Crossing” starts off with the rattling of chains drawn across a metal container as dark sounds pulse and throb in the background. The song continues building up, leading you to some Godforsaken place. Suddenly, it’s replaced by “Midrange.” Imagine a Low song, if Mimi Parker switched to viola. It’s a quiet piece, broken up by electronic bleeps, downright serene compared to “Phantom Channel Crossing.”
“Pico” is an endearing track. Beginning with the bassline, a church organ and sparse guitar melody soon join in. Over the whispered vocals, a haunting moog is heard, evoking a nostalgic sense. It’s like something that might be played while driving through adandoned towns lying in deep snowy shrouds and forests. On “The Cipher,” you’re listening to a blizzard. The wind whips across the barren prairies and plays along the telephone wires. The wires resonate and sing in the wind, like a disembodied wall of voices howling in the middle of the night.
Barren and desolate, this album evokes the feeling of driving down long stretches of abandoned highway on a winter night; the only light comes from glancing at the stars above and the disembodied lights floating on the highway in front of you. It’s a beautiful work, glittering with ice and chilly atmospheres.