The High Confessions – Turning Lead Into Gold With The High Confessions   Leave a comment

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The 20th of July saw the release of High Confessions’ Turning Lead Into Gold With The High Confessions. Out on Relapse, the band consists of some very interesting people: Chris Connelly  (Ministry, Revco.), Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), Sanford Parker (Minsk) and Jeremy Lemos (White/Light). The main word how the accompanying information sheet of the promo describes their sound is post rock.  I’m not familiar with Revco, or White/Light, but let alone the other names make sure we have a sure super group at our hands. And boy, do they deliver.

I urge you to give this disc multiple spins before forming an opinion about Turning Lead Into Gold With The High Confessions. To use a simple metaphor: they use the fundamentals of rock and metal – the Lead if you will – to create something actually beautiful, complex, strange and challenging at the same time. I don’t mean to say that this release is a grower – since maybe that’s something of a knockdown argument. The album consists of 5 tracks, lasting 53,4 minutes, with two tracks over 11 minutes, and one over 17 minutes. No, we don’t get any Om-like complexities or epic metal songs (also known for its often long durations) but something quite unique: high brow, arty post rock with a slow moving undertone of soundscapes and krautrock spheres of psychedelia and experiment. For example, The Listener (track number three) sounds like something David Bowie might have created in his Eno era, and throughout the whole album you’ll find references to a gamut of (heavy) rock history. The album can be described by numerous tags (the post punk of bands like Wire and Television comes to mind too), but that doesn’t help this review much I think, so I’ll zoom in on some personal listening experiences.

Opener Mistaken For Cops is different than the other four tracks: it’s more up-tempo and it comes closer to a ‘normal’ rock song. Maybe a shadow of Ministry can be heard on this song, but it’s way more slow and calm than Ministry. The vocals and the riffing go hand in hand, and the whole song lasts just over four minutes. Along Came The Dogs (17 plus minutes) opens with rolling drums and different sound effects with textual excerpts slowly moving their way through the pulse of this track. This track is the most experimental of the five, and you have to be in the mood for this one. The other tracks are simply easier on the ears.

The Listener (track three) flows smoothly through its 11 plus minutes with its hypnotic guitars and warm sound effects. This track is therefore very Brian Eno / David Bowie in its approach: ambient like sound structures with mesmerizing vocals. There is no catharsis, which you’ll find quite often in ‘regular’ post rock songs, and the track ends confidently, setting the stage for Dead Tenements, track number four. This song could have well been written by Wire (check their 154 for a arty blast from the post punk past). The lyrics are dark but not too dark, and the album has something of a literature feel to it. No to say that this release is difficult, or hard on the ears, quite the contrary. Dead Tenements builds up to something more heavy than the previous track, with great drums and exclamations as vocals.

Chlorine And Crystal ends the disc nicely, with the similar, slow song structure of the past tracks. This album makes me happy, and I’m confident this super group’s release will stay with me. Last year’s super group, Shrinebuilder, held my interest for only a few spins, and that’s often the case with super groups: there is too much talent and craftsmanship put into one release, and sometimes that’s a disadvantage. With Turning Lead Into Gold With The High Confessions we have a prime example of a band creating something unique and lasting, notwithstanding the sole musical excellence of it’s members. To be honest, I can’t point even one song that’s typical Sonic Youth, or Minsk, etcetera. It’s something new and something beautiful. 8/10

The High Confessions Myspace

Review Written By Sandrijn van den Oever

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Posted August 5, 2010 by doommantia in The High Confessions

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