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coverpic flag US - Illinois - Full Moon 241 - 04/22/16

Califone
Insect Courage EP
Future Oak Record Co.

Califone have such a distinctive and hypnotic aesthetic. As soon as Insect Courage starts up, I slip into it willingly, like a well-worn couch. Their last album, 2013's Stitches (on Dead Oceans), was absolutely superb, and this 22-minute 10" EP proves their quality control isn't slipping.

Split into two distinct sides that each end with a titular instrumental ("Insect Courage" numbers 14 and 33), this release transports me back to the first time I heard early songs "Pastry Sharp" and "Dime Fangs" (both off the Califone EP, 1998). There's something about Tim Rutili's songwriting that gives me shivers. Despite being rooted in dusty acoustic blues - a genre I'm ambivalent towards - Califone's songs are refracted through a foxed junkshop mirror, rendering them dreamy and haunting. Though "Burn The Sheets, Bleach The Books" builds into clanking noise-rock, the majority of this EP is minimal and atmospheric, making for a gently hallucinogenic listen - their cover of Peter Gabriel's "Mother of Violence" dissolves into a rippling pool of percussion and a field recording of fireworks.

There's always been something uncanny about Califone's music, and Insect Courage exemplifies their magic touch as well as any of their releases to date.

Copyright © 2016 Tim Clarke e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Califone articles/reviews: Deceleration One, Roomsound - Deluxe Reissue, Stitches.

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