Reviews for Despina By Land:

Ptolemaic Terrascope No. 25, 1998

"Somewhere back in the depths of a Ptolemaic Rumbles we've mentioned North Carolina band Spatula before, either from their contribution to a Now Sound or to a Ba Da Bing compilation I suspect. I can't quite remember which and I'm sorry, but it takes a full length album to allow their carefully textured instrumental landscapes room to stretch and grow, since only when faced with the full majesty of the incongruous strains of their melancholic indulgence do the icicles finally draw blood. Picture if you will the poppies in the field. Spatula are a band on the seashore staring in towards the traumatised, brooding , rain-sodden postwar landscape, a group struck mute by the awfulness of it all who can only interpret what they see through colourful, cavernous rhythmic structures, every chord a fractal raindrop, every melody a fluttering retreat. 'Pittman's Violets' has them unfurling a haunting cello against a backdrop of cyclical guitar. 'Sometimes You Die' could almost be the soundtrack of a movie, maybe one with Scenic providing incidental atmosphere'; 'Lamp in Tavern Window' is a jaunty accordion-led sea-shanty while pieces such as 'Snake of One Hundred Paces' are guided by slide guitar, backbeats and anti-rhythms through a magical museum of Magic Band miscellany ('Lasko' and 'Peony' likewise throw distant shadows onto post-Magic Band works in progress by Mallard, a band who I miss even if no-one else does). 'The Field Broadens' adds a dash of middle-eastern mysticism to the cocktail. The highlights perhaps though are 'Strewn and Shoeless', a heady concoction of cello, guitar and distant howling feedback atmospherics, and the almost cathartic 'Continuous Cities' which starts out dramatically enough with some almost rockin' guitar riffery, becomes dreamily pallid as if to fool the listener into drawing very close and then explodes - it's the only word for it - with a guitar solo which'll have the paint blistering off the wall of your squat. Spatula aren't doing anything new - parallels have been drawn before now with Bedhead for example (although I have to say Bedhead leave all the opposition dead in the wake of the extraordinary 'Forgetting', half way through their new album on Trance Syndicate, Transaction de Novo: that's another story for another time though) - but they're masters at reinterpreting paths which others have occasionally trodden before, and in a world where everyone else is looking for new frontiers which probably don't exist anyway Despina By Land is a bloodpact between band and listener which you'd be foolish to ignore".-Phil McMullen

CitySearch Web site. Jan. 24, 1998

"Spatula's third full-length album might easily have been one of my favorite local albums of last year, but no dice: Blacksburg, VA's mighty Squealer Corporation pushed back the record's release until this January. No big deal; "Despina By Land" will just get first crack at making 1998's top 5 list. Remarkably well-recorded by Bob Weston, "Despina" charts the sonic excursions of these Chapel Hill veterans as they wander all over the musical map, navigating their typically beautiful and understated guitar/cello/drums rock through hypnotic organ drones, free skittery improvising, peaceful soundtrack-y lullabies, a klezmeresque jig, microtonal chamber music, and lick-heavy guitar explosions. If that list doesn't convince you of the utter diversity to be found on Despina By Land, there are some bigger surprises: two songs that actually have vocals and an Eastern-flavored electro remix courtesy of Friend Side Monkey. Underground pundits will probably try and falsely characterize Spatula as "post-rock," but let's face it: like Cul de Sac and the Dirty Three, Spatula are really just an extremely adventurous "string-rock" band that's capable of creating intense and beautiful music of numerous different styles, both traditional and modern and sometimes both at the same time. Most of the Eastern and Southeastern United States will be able to catch Spatula this January when the trio opens numerous dates of the last Polvo tour."-Tim Ross

The Rocket No. 274 March 25-April 8, 1998

"It's a long time into this album before there's a clue that this band might play rock clubs. From the sound of it, they mostly stay home and write beautiful soundtracks for strangers' lives, maybe the way our own Black Cat Orchestra and/or Christian Asplund does here at home. Clearly, this is a formally trained association of musicians who have undergone their apprenticeships and bucked the constraints of classical form in order to apply their music to kinds of songs that haven't even been thought of yet.
Despina By Land is a work of total beauty, wracked with struggles scripted between instruments and intersong movements, carefully conducted through conflict and resolution. Each instrument plays a host of characters, and each song sounds like an act in a very long, emotional play written in a foreign, vaguely Eastern European language.
But it's also totally engaging, quirky, fun, and extremely charismatic. Despina By Land actually does bridge the gap between experimental music and the outer edges of rock, without suffering either the pretensions of one or the melodic constraints of the other. While guitar is only one of many instruments on this album, it's believably raucous and free, even when undergoing contortions the likes of Polvo. In fact, Spatula shares hometowns and stages with the brilliant but now-disbanded Polvo, which only increases my appreciation of both bands.
Despina By Land is Spatula's fourth album, and I can only assume that the previous albums, of which I have been ignorant, have been playing in the homes of experimental music lovers around town for years now. With this album produced by indie music icon Bob Weston, maybe the indie-alert system will finally be triggered in the larger national communities. This album is exactly the kind of inspired good stuff worth building listening communities for."-Evan Sult

POK Magazine No. 9

"Volatile and kinetic, Spatula's music makes yr brain tingle. With stunning skill and utilization of space, Spatula discovers rich, fertile textures brimming with complex, unpredictable, yet understandable progressions. By navigating between playing quick runs in jazzy tones, to disjointed riffing or more classically trained arpeggios, the guitar comes alive within these sprawling, minimal orchestrations. A thin, but powerful trapset and a fluid cello offer their ideas to the context. During it all, I sit and stare in amazement, my eyes fixed upon a sightless reference point hung from a galaxy only Spatula can reach."-Steve Brydges

Your Flesh #39

"Subtlety in tone is a quality few bands can master. North Carolina's Spatula are not about trying too hard to accomplish too little, but rather about creating sounds that evoke time and presence. Discovering new musical directions remains a challenge for even the most experienced bands. What separates this album from previous Spatula releases is the wide range of styles explored. Once a group's sound becomes evident, trying to find new sonic direction can be difficult. Spatula's Despina By Land proves how ambient guitar and cello rock can evolve into a new brand of rabid techno and sequencer schematics. Chuck Johnson's guitars are textured and proficient with everything from slow drone to wispy choruses. Cellos fill the air with soundtrack precision courtesy of Chris Eubanks' fluid playing style. While their past LP's were about describing landscapes with aural beauty and grace, this record speaks to a more rambunctious audience. Quiet instrumental pop tunes abound through a melange of mathy breakbeats and minimal vocals. Instead of creating one musical movement, this record reads like a sum of disjointed song. Each has its own look, feel, and texture. Despina By Land is a true testament to redefining the 'album' as a various artists LP featuring one band".-Jonah Brucker-Cohen

Progress Report #4

"Damn cute post-rock that squirts a new take on the Swell/Tortoise side of life. Spatial additions of sarods and melodicas give it just the right amount of levitation possibilities while retaining a tightness of playing that only boys who know how to smile can do. Been playing this more often than most of the stuff so far this year. The fold-out digipak design by Amy Wilkinson has a gorgeous photo of evening skies of cloud, shadowy biplanes, and fireworks out yonder. See? Told you it was a cute item. Produced by Bob Weston, and no sign of Jim O'Rourke at all. Hurrah!"-Hassni Malik

Tape Op No. 9 Spring 1998

"This CD has seen the inside of my player quite a bit since arriving - the music is alarmingly unique, emotional and quirky. Guitar, cello, keyboards and drums are used to create mini-epic compositions that employ melancholy melodies and unexpected developments. Bob Weston captures the band on tape in a pleasingly natural way. It sounds as though they had a good room, excellent mics, and just played. Very little in the way of 'producing' is noticeable, instead it seems Weston allowed the band to rely on their musicianship leading to one of the better neoclassical-indie prog rock albums around".-Dewey Mahood

Stylus Vol. 9, No. 3 February 1998

"Despina By Land is a balance between improvisation and deliberation - songs that stick their tongues out as they deliberately skirt around the idea of structure and others that lock into a lurching groove...and some that do both at once. North Carolina's Spatula seem to tread through a darkened, arid landscape where obstacles loom up unexpectedly - they're probably post-rock, if you want to drop a label on them, but the way they branch out into Middle Eastern dervishes and odd clarinet embellishments defies description.
Recorded by Bob Weston, Despina By Land's opening track, 'Voyage of the Slan', sets the tone for an album rich in contrast, flowing naturally from a sleepy drone to a torrid rush. The hushed vibrance of 'Strewn and Shoeless' recalls Low and there's a Wooden Stars-like jerky, stop-start motion to the album. Mostly instrumental, sometimes experimental, always challenging, its quiet moments have an angular delicacy and its rock moments surge forward compellingly.
As with any experiment, there's always the possibility that it'll blow up in your face - but when it does, the colours sure are pretty".-JW

Record Exchange Music Monitor April 1998

"Spatula's Despina By Land is a tour of moods and genres, showcasing the trio's many talents while still maintaining a singular identity. Guitarist/occasional vocalist Chuck Johnson, drummer Matt Gocke, and cellist/bassist Chris Eubanks weave their instruments, along with touches of keyboard, across ten tracks to create a varied but cohesive sonic landscape.
The sounds and structures of Despina By Land are so varied, in fact, that a catchall description is impossible. Spatula certainly doesn't play pop music, but that vague exclusion aside, there's little Spatula doesn't play. Even the broadest musical categorizations don't do this band justice; words like 'rock,' 'ambient' and even 'song' often seem too restrictive.
Their composition are not without boundaries however. Each track adheres to its own logic and fulfills its own needs. Whether the minute and a half, quietly wandering guitar piece 'Peony' or the epic 'Sometimes You Die,' with its transition from spacious meditation to chaotic riffing, each song seems to complete an idea or mood. Unlike much post-whatever instrumental music, nothing noodles on too long or stops short of fulfillment.
Likewise, Spatula also exercises tasteful restraint in instrumentation. They manage to maintain a minimalist ambiance whether drifting through the almost classical string arrangement of 'Pittman's Violets' or the Tom Waitsian carnival stumble of 'Lamp in Tavern Window.' They will try anything to make a composition work, but they refuse to try everything at once.
This patience is what really makes each song pay off. Spatula has the ability to play Sonic Youth-gone-to-math-class chaos, as they do on 'Continuous Cities' and the ability to arrange clarinet and sarod (and Indian lute) around a percussive swing, as on 'The Field Broadens.' That they attempt both is a testament to their breadth of vision, that they allow each its own time and space shows wise restraint, that they accomplish both so casually is a miracle."-Adam Jackson

Blow Up (Italy) Luglio/Agosto 1998 #6

"Despina By Land, quarto album degli Spatula uscito nel gennaio scorso con la produzione di Bob Weston, e tra le migliori sorprese ascoltate quest'anno in ambito idi classico indie americano. Un album DI sorprendente maturita stilistica e DI scrittura spesso magistrale, con rimandi che vanno dai Polvo ai Quicksilver alla musica folk esteuropea. UN suono in bilico tra passato e futuro, psichedelia classica e riletture post qualcosa come pochissimi riescono a fare. La partenza e DI quelle che non si dimenticano: 'Voyage of the Slan' sonnecchia con UN giro d'organo prettamente psichedelico e d'improvviso brucia tempi e ritmi con UN monster riff chitarristico che lascia dilungare il brano verso soglie inaspettate, accompagnato anche dal perfetto arrangiamento d'archi. DA qui in avanti, una sorpresa continua.
'Lasko' (IL primo dei due soli brani cantati) inizia con sapori vagamente progressive e si allarga verso brevi picchi noise per planare su territori che furono dei Quicksilver Messenger Service, una fonte d'ispirazione che torna spesso, vedi IL folk klezmer fittamente strutturato DI 'The Field Broadens', in cui compare anche Dave Brylawski dei Polvo. Ed e appunto IL folk (mittel)europeo un'altra delle curiose influenze DI quest'album, come possiamo sentire anche DA brevi intermezzi come 'Lamp in Tavern Window' e 'Pittman's Violets', per non dire della spagnoleggiante 'Peony'. L'altro brano cantato e 'Continuos Cities', che parte con UN riff molto vicino agli ultimi Polvo e si sviluppa in ballad younghiana ('Cortez the Killer' dietro l'angolo), sfoggiando UN paio DI assolo DI semplicissima ma altrettanto efficace fattura. Poi 'Sometimes You Die', IL brano piu lungo dell'album, che parte sognante e diafano per acquistare sul finale UN ritmo incandescente. 'Snake of One Hundred Paces' condensa in due minuti e mezzo andamenti country e una breve dilatazione centrale DI sapore jazzy, non distante dalle escogitazioni degli Storm and Stress. Inutile, purtroppo, IL remix in chiave dance-elettronica DI 'Lasko', posto a suggello dell'album.
I Polvo sono morti? Nessuna paura. Ripartite DA Spatula: fidatevi."-Stefano I. Bianchi

[Here's the translation of the above, thanks to our good friend Luigi Falagario...

"Despina By Land, Spatula's fourth album came out last January and produced by Bob Weston, is among the best surprises heard this year on the subject of classic American indie. A stylistically surprising mature album often written skillfully! It refers to the better Polvo, the Quicksilver and the eastern European folk music tradition. A sound precariously poised between the past and the future, classic psychedelia and "post" key to read something like few bands are able to do. It starts in a way that you will hardly forget: "Voyage Of The Slan" dozes, while an organ riff psychedelically perfect is playing, to suddenly forge ahead with a monster guitarristic riff and let the track wander away through unwaited thresholds while an arrangement of strings perfectly accompanies the trip. From now on it's a continuous surprise. "Lasko" initiates with a vaguely progressive flavour to spread out on noise summits and land on planets only visited by the Quicksilver Messenger Service, a source of inspiration often shown, like the klezmer folk in "The Field Broadens" shows. Dave Brylawski of Polvo contributes to this song. And it's always the mittel-european folk, one of the weird influences on this album, shown briefly in "Lamp In Tavern Window" and "Pittman's Violets" while "Peony" is full of spanish influences. "Continuos Cities" starts with a riff a lot closer to the last things recorded by Polvo and then it develops in a Neil-Young-like ballad, with simple but nice chords! "Sometimes You Die" is the longest passage, it starts dreaming and transparent and brings you to incandescent lands! "Snake Of One Hundred Paces" is two minutes and a half of country developments and of a short dilatation in jazzy spaces, not far from Storm & Stress' ideas. No point, sadly, for the remixed version of "Lasko"! Do you think Polvo are definitively dead? Don't worry, life starts again with Spatula!" -Stefano I. Bianchi

The Olympian April 17, 1998

"Spatula's brand of instrumental music: electronics, trance-like drones, cut up hip hop beats, precise jazz changes, Middle Eastern melodies, encompasses a lot of today's trends. Spatula ticks along nicely and then all hell breaks loose as grunge-like guitar heroics momentarily break up the proceedings, like Mr. Coffee Nerves at a gathering of sensitive poets, only to recede again as quieter passages prevail. There's even a vocal or two but mainly this three man band use a wide array of instruments, (guitar, keyboards, melodica, drums, cello and bass) to work their instrumental ideas out. There are also friends joining in on clarinet and sarod to fill out this, sometimes meditative, sometimes edgy disc."-Tucker Petertil

IndieCent Sept. 98

"An apocalyptic mood laces itself through this instrumental CD beginning with 'Voyage of the Slan.' It starts out something like an Irish battle hymn, then in typical Spatula fashion tears itself up by guitar. Also metamorphic is 'Snake of One Hundred Paces' which begins as a foot wagger, unravels itself and regains composure. They can't help but spotlight clever guitar playing and they do it in a number of ways. In 'the Field Broadens', whispers of classical acoustic guitar heed to a chunky beat with cello and clarinet. Cello is especially poignant in both 'Strewn and Shoeless' and 'Pittman's Violets' where it sprawls behind lonely guitar. Watch out for the remix of 'Lasko', an improbable rendition fully-equipped with drum machine splattering. It sticks out like a sore thumb, but maybe it's a joke... Regardless, Despina By Land is a unique CD which travels across many thresholds".-Lisa Kaitz

Alternative Press May 1998

"Scrawling through instrumental moods and modes, Despina By Land flows through its 11 tracks with an odd, enchanting seamlessness, despite the separate 'songs.' The guitar-based explorations range from slow idling to the eruptive kicks of a chunky engine. Titles like 'Voyage of the Slan' and 'Strewn and Shoeless' express some humor at the proceedings, but the cuts could all have been labeled '1,' '2,' '3,' etc., for all they mean to the music.
It's all very atmospheric at times; other times it's knocking you upside the head. None of the four [sic] members of Spatula are exactly virtuosos, and their most effective moments of musicianship are when they go full bore into a rhythmic stream, loud and enthusiastic. Otherwise, they get caught up in self-conscious art poses, working an intricate design of faint melody into complicated forms. The result is often as awkward as it is intriguing; that is, the ideas outpace their execution enough for one to admire their thoughts but never really get excited by what one is actually hearing.
The touted 'indie cred' of the Spatula members (affinities with Polvo, Storm and Stress, Ida, Cat Power, et al.) aside, this band try hard to develop a new progressive sound out of a basically retro music. The process has been volatile and isn't over yet. But it's an interesting birth."-Stephen M. H. Braitman

Jitter Magazine

"Another long standing member of the indie-rock world unleashes another full-length for the masses to enjoy, and enjoy we will.
Despina By Land is a record of diversity. You've got guitar rock instrumentals like the opening track 'Voyage of the Slan', and there's the slightly discordant indie-rock song with a noisy moment ('Lasko'). Despina even has improv-sounding style of a Gastr Del Sol on 'Snake of One Hundred Paces', and these are just the first three songs.
This record has a little bit of everything, so it's great to listen to if you're having an indecisive moment. These may be the most diverse eleven tracks I've heard in a while, but they all mesh rather well, so listen to this and judge for yourself".-J.C.

Recensies #6

"Opvolger van het in deze kolommen al geroemde Under the Veil of Health. Het duo uit Chapel Hill is nu een trio en dat is niet het enige verschil: de productie is een stuk beter (Bob Weston zat achter de knoppen) en het instrumentarium blijkt te zijn uitgebreid met klarinet, cello en zelfs vocalen (zij het zeer sporadisch...). Je kunt je trouwens afvragen wat een betere productie is: die van Weston is perfect maar glad en clean, de vorige ontleende juist zijn kracht aan de primitieve 'gruizige en harde' opname. Hetgeen nog niet wil zeggen dat er iets mis is met deze nieuwe plaat, integendeel. We horen naast het springerige van Uncle Wiggly nog stees noisy post-Slint-rockers en ER is ruimte voor rustige en zeer fraaie instrumentaaltjes. Deze vierde is de meest toegankelijke van Spatula, soms missen we toch wel het rauwe soundje maar uiteindelijk is Despina By Land, gewoon een erg mooie plaat."-Maurice

Raro February 1999

"Sotto l'attenta supervisione DI Bob Weston (Shellac), gli Spatula con Despina By Land arrivano alla quarta produzioned sulla lunga durata: si tratta DI UN riuscitissimo intreccio DI melodie e suoni che sanno essere duri (lo strumentale 'Voyage of the Slan', 'Continuous Cities') ed armonici ('Lasko', 'Pittman's Violet' con tanto DI archi) allo stesso tempo. Dividere IL palco con artisti del calibro DI Polvo, Cat Power e Storm and Stress ha davvero fatto maturare IL trio della North Carolina".-Gabriele Pescatore

Magnet March/April 1998

"Like its Chapel Hill brethren Polvo, Spatula has taken to non-rock 'n' roll instrumentation in the making of its 'rock' records. With guitar (Chuck Johnson), drums (Matt Gocke) and cello/bass (Chris Eubanks), the band creates music far more interesting than the kitchen utensil they are named after. Not really rock and not really jazz, Spatula is the spork of the indie-rock world, challenging the status quo with aural snippets of what could be deemed modern classical. From sparse to spastic, the group holds together by letting it all fall apart. Uber producer Bob Weston seems a little lost on Despina, not quite knowing how to 'catch' this band in action. But then again, Beethoven probably had a hell of a time trying to get folks to understand what was going on in his mind. If you want unusually unique and challenging music, put down the fork, toss out the spoon and pick up Spatula".-Greg Barbera

The Independent, February 18-24, 1998

"Ever since the writers at The Wire came up with the term 'post rock', I've been struggling with its meaning. Apparently other readers have as well, because the mag recently ran a letter asking for a proper definition. The answer, after hemming and hawing for a few lines about post rock going beyond the confines of rock, was something like 'listen to Trans Am and you'll know.' Now that I've listened to the latest CD by Chapel Hill's Spatula, I think I know what they were trying to say. Post rock (or at least Spatula's definition of it) is what you might get if you took an afternoon playlist from the ultra-eclectic WXYC-FM and churned it through a musical meat grinder. Jazz and blues, Indian soundtrack music and klezmer, Kraftwerk and AC/DC all mix together into a new form that places no restrictions on instrumentation, time signatures, tuning or song length. Yet the result would still have a cohesive, recognizable structure, and that's what distinguishes post rock from freestyle. Spatula, which has been teetering between indie rock and post rock for years, executes a perfect swan dive with Despina. And by allowing Friend Side Monkey to add a funky remix at the very end, they might end up surfacing in a different musical pool altogether."-Karen Mann

Philadelphia City Paper, Jan. 23-29, 1998

"Spatula have always been the overlooked artisans of the Chapel Hill, NC, indie rock circle: almost as wacked as Polvo and ballsy but not like Superchunk or Pipe. They're more into details than the big picture - concerned with the little musical moments that perk your ear up rather than big rock overtures that make your head bop. They're archivists as much as rockers, spinning little bits of music history into their densely woven soundscapes. The album opener, 'Voyage of the Slan,' opens with eerily slow, Doors-like keyboards and a drum cadence which double-times into a spastic jagged instro-rocker midsong. Guitarist Chuck Johnson's low-mixed vocals kick in on the minor-key 'Lasko,' punctuated by bebop jumps and hip-hop drum breaks in the bridge (an electro-arabesque remix of the song appears later on). 'Snake of One Hundred Paces' starts out like a sailor's ditty, devolves into free-jazz chaos and finishes as a chugga-chugga romp while 'The Field Broadens' incorporates meditative classical guitar. The record's rump-shaker, 'Continuous Cities,' is a self-conscious tribute to metal, replete with dark imagery which bobs back and forth between tinny, strummy indie-rockisms and extended guitar-god licks. It's very much an album of tinkering and experimentalism, summed up nicely with the build and crescendo of the penultimate track 'Sometimes You Die.' It's a record of painstaking research and execution, and a damn fine one at that."-Brian Howard

Reviews for Under the Veil of Health:

Tuba Frenzy Issue #3 1996

"The brand new 25-minute EP Under the Veil of Health is a bit less formal and that makes it the perfect tool for allowing Spatula to play around with some new ideas while tacking an impressive coda onto Medium [Planers and Matchers] already triumphant symphony. Anthemic film theme rock, drony tape loops, clarinet, Moog, and cowbell are the decentralized norm here, and while the only cello cut ("King George Island") is a worthy molasses-like tune, the "hit" off this EP has to be the jittery and upbeat "VFW"-the closest Spatula will ever get to playing polka. All in all, yet another reason for me to wonder why this band hasn't gotten more acclaim for doing what they do. With all of the people wetting their pants (and this group often includes me) over Roy Montgomery, Cul de Sac, Bardo Pond, Gastr del Sol, June of 44, Scenic, the Rachels, Tortoise, Loren MazzaCane Connors, and even self-proclaimed Spatula-fans the Coctails, one would think that equal opportunity will soon allow similar attention to rain down on Spatula's incredibly fertile soil. Let it come, I say. Let it come."-Tim Ross

CMJ #18 9/30/96

"Bully for them! Spatula was one of the few Chapel Hill, North Carolina, bands to escape the mass signing of NC bands back when Superchunk's success defined the area as a 'scene.' Releasing a few records on random small labels, Spatula has had the luxury of growing naturally, without the effect or pressure of big business, and thankfully so. Once an innocuous piece of the NC rock puzzle, Spatula has blossomed into an individual, instrumental beauty. The word 'instrumental' has about as many connotations now as 'Chapel Hill' did a few years back, but shun those automatic thoughts of post-rock and Tortoise. The songs on Under the Veil of Health are sparse, yet robust, and not even close to being self-indulgent or exceedingly dramatic. The guitar guides the listener through these songs, which range from the dark, trudging 'Quibell' to the bright, peppy 'VFW'. Moog, cello and clarinet accompany the guitar on some of these sonic adventures, acting as a steadying support system. Cheers to not being the next big thing. Pour a glass of bubbly and relax to 'King George Island,' 'Empire of the Sun' and 'Service Entrance Fiasco.'-Dawn Sutter

Alternative Press Dec. 1996

"Spatula's dark, brooding delivery reflects a somber search for a new frontier in the genre-defined world of indie-rock. Sidewinding along mountainous terrain like explorers of vacant canyons in the Old West, the Chapel Hill, North Carolina band's instrumentals drift from pallid landscapes to textural authenticity without any sense of misdirection. As the album comes to a close, cyclical guitar patterns split open the air and speed along like passing tornadoes on a dusty plateau. There is no genre here, only a quiet embrace of soulful sounds that coalesces on momentary urgency and nostalgic emotion. After one listen, you find yourself pressing 'play' again, and the story will unfold in a new mental context."-Jonah Brucker-Cohen

Ajax Distribution Catalog Update 23.1

"This North Carolina duo steps more fully into a sound of their own on this mini-album. They continue to focus entirely on instrumental songs, but it's the 6-string vocabulary of guitarist Chuck Johnson that gets the attention here. The best songs on here are expansive, thoughtful and melodic, bringing to mind everything from 3Ds-ish sea-shanty ('Empire of the Sun') to southern-fried hoedown ('VFW') to a half-speed Pell Mell with a touch of Toiling Midgets ('King George Island'). Elsewhere, they mess around with brief noise/tape fragments that don't come off as well, and even evoke a bit of their old Thinking Fellers-inspired self in 'Service Entrance Fiasco'.-Tim Adams

The DIY Report #38

"A moody instrumental release that displays a garage guitar raw edge and a decent degree of sonic exploration (tape effects, moog). The feel is improvisational and a somewhat ambient effect is achieved when the songs are allowed time to grow (which I wish happened more often). Amy Wilkinson is brought in on clarinet and Chris Eubank plays cello on one cut respectively, but it's the brooding guitar work that is focus here. I look forward to more. RATING: 7."-Bryan Baker

Mole Magazine #10

"Sinous instrumental slacker rock, sometimes simple 2 chord things and generally more complex meanders into the upper atmosphere. Something like slo-core exotica math rock. 'Empire of the Sun' takes you there on long cymbal rides and brazen spaces'-Jeff Bagato