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Pumice

Pebbles (Soft Abuse)

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Pumice (born Stefan Geoffrey Neville) has often been described as a "bedroom musician." But Pebbles sounds as if it were recorded before Neville got out of bed. Only the most dedicated fans of lo-fi indie can navigate such hissfests. If that's you, there's plenty here that will clear the crust from your eyes.

Pebbles stumbles from psych-punk jangle ("Eyebath") to longer, more haunting tracks that are punctuated by eerie melodica ("Greenock"). With a ramshackle assortment of tweaked instruments, Pumice offers textured atmospheres and skeletal pop -- something similar to the macabre incidental music from the cult television show In Search Of . . . The album also features tasteful nods to experimental folk icon and fellow New Zealander Alastair Galbraith. The shimmering abstraction "Spike/Spear" owes a lot to Galbraith's work with indie-noise legends the Plagal Grind.

Pebbles is a shadowy album. Its full scope remains obscured, even after repeated exposure. Traditional songwriters might emphatically implore their listeners to join them on a spiritual journey of the mind, but Neville invites his fans to fall down the stairs and die quietly in the dark.

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