Saturday, April 12, 2008

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Shining Skull Breath

Jefre is the founding member of San Francisco band Tarentel. I discovered Tarentel when their album We Move Through Weather arrived at the radio station I worked for and I fell in love instantly. I had no idea any of them did any solo projects so when I found out about this, I jumped on it. From what I've read, though, Shining Skull Breath is a darker, louder version of what JCL normally does. Fine by me.

The opening track, Distant Star (For Pete Swanson) (of Yellow Swans fame, also mastered the album), starts out as a nice, quiet but lush drone. Distant Star sounds kind of like falling through the sky, but muted. But as the track progresses and you get closer to the ground, everything becomes more intense, the wind rushing past your ears so you can't hear anything else. There are a few tracks that don't even break the 2 minute mark that are much quieter than the rest and feel like interludes, allowing for breathing room. They don't seem out of place, though. They sound as if they could be the underlying foundation to the rest of the songs, only stripped bare of the static. I feel like the title track, though, really embodies what the album is all about; it's abrasive but still somehow soothing. Beneath all of the scratching guitar feedback, there's gorgeous high end shimmering, soft and smooth.

At times, Shining Skull Breath reminds me of Belong. Wall-of-noise distortion but faded and washed out, sheer bliss. Like getting caught in the rip tide and being pulled out to sea but remaining calm, not fighting it, just letting it take you.

Released by Students Of Decay in a limited edition of 100 copies. Color prints glued onto a cardboard CD sleeve, with an insert containing track titles and such.

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