Machine hum. Digital blips. Watery burbles. A distant pulse. These are the sounds of “Twenty,” the 18-minute track that begins Labradford’s sixth album, fixed::context. Evolving at a glacial pace, “Twenty,” presents a particularly stark and melancholy vision of post-rock, influenced equally by Ry Cooder’s film scores, ambient techno, and long walks in the dark. “Wien” and “Up to Pizmo” are more traditional guitar/bass duets, though the players sound heavily drugged — the sleepy riffs swim and slink through a world of reverb and echo. The Duane Eddy guitar tone and pastoral melodies place the Richmond (Virginia) trio within a particular strain of small-town Americana that draws more from creepy David Lynch flicks than wide-eyed Aaron Copland symphonies, although the dewy keyboard filaments and wondrous synth pads keep the atmosphere from sinking too low. Labradford’s brand of minimalism can be maddening in the headphones — it’s like waiting for a bus that never comes. But it works as an excellent accompaniment to life’s daily rituals — the mindful arrangements and careful pacing lend a meditative, almost mystical mood to the most mundane chores.
(Labradford perform this Friday, February 16, at the Middle East. Call 864-EAST.)