His/Hers yokes together two disparate musical methodologies that I am extremely interested in at the moment and does it very well–improvisation and that ethereal, immense hymnal melancholy that bands like the Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, and Lycia created so naturally. Even more promisingly, Zelienople’s improvisation is less testoteroned, male, more from the heart instead of the head/ego–if that makes sense. Listening to it, the songs on His/Hers feel gorgeously blurred, slightly out of phase–sound echoing and naturally recurring and reproducing infinitely.

Opener “Family Beast” definitely creates a tangible sense of space, as you can feel and map out the vibrations, reverberations, and echoes that filled every corner of the room the album was recorded in–like looking at negative space blueprints. The seemingly tentative, delicate guitar and vocal echoes are like a small cluster of ghosts trying to play Junior Kimbrough songs on old, dusty guitars; I keep thinking of slender diaphanous fingers slipping so slightly on cold, rusted metal strings. And while “Moss Man” begins in much the same disoriented, reverent fashion, an insistent rain of cymbals soon heralds broad storms of sustained guitar and percussive noise.

“Parts Are Lost” begins as a distant, Appalachian Christmas song, guitar/sleighbells/lost vocals, before it too sheds that skin and becomes more freeform pulses and tone poems–somehow even more serene. “Forced March” is like the noisy bits of “Venus in Furs” looped and amplified in some deserted monastery, collaged and stacked on top over and over, but still with regal and seductive bearing. His/Hers is what I always imagined early Verve to sound like–for having the audacity to call their album A Storm in Heaven and then ending up as just another rock band. Or maybe even the instruments in Crazy Horse’s rehearsal space sing gently to one another (especially closer “Sweet Ali”) long after the lights have been turned off and everyone’s gone home.

Oh lord, please don’t stop singing. I couldn’t bear it.

Type Records: www.typerecords.com

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