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[Off The Record]
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Simian
CHEMISTRY IS WHAT WE ARE
(SOURCE/ASTRALWERKS)

From Manchester, England, Simian are best known for conducting invite-only Church of Simian concerts, which have featured Ladytron and Future Sound of London as DJs. And their debut album features 13 songs best described as modern hymns for the electronica religion. Like fellow " folktronica " disciples the Beta Band, Simian mix synthesized swaths of sound and otherworldly samples with drone-like harmonies and burbling beats, creating unorthodox rhythms and textures. Softly shimmering guitars brush up against church-organ chords which crop up everywhere, backing cascading plainchant material on " You Set Off My Brain, " propelling the ghostly " Chamber, " and swirling through " One Dimension. " Chemistry lacks the deep psychedelics of the Betas, relying instead on quieter ambient compositions that can be both unsettling and calming. At times the lack of structure leaves the album to meander. But fully formed gems like " Grey " and " One Dimension " bring it back into focus and prevent it from collapsing under the weight of its own experimentation.

BY ANNIE ZALESKI

Issue Date: November 1 - 8, 2001





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