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After what's been a wild end to 2010 thanks to sheets of water, howling wind and New Year's Eve debauchery, we suggest . . . chilling. Take one last nod to the year that's just departed with Sloum, a side project of Costa Mesa's Brian Evans when he's not trying out 8 million other things. Caught somewhere between the ghost-of-shoegaze flow that has defined much of his previous work and the older strains of ambient first codified in the '70s, the self-titled seven-song release suggests calm sunsets and letting everything go instead of getting wound-up. So, no, this is definitely not one to bump to in your ride on a crazy Friday night, but you never know how you might feel Saturday morning.
Tracks such as "Tenebrous Beats the Hunters Heart" clearly demonstrate the continual impact of Brian Eno's ambient work. There's something to the shuddering bass and floating tones often missed by the neo-New Age brigade, while the echoed piano on "Tin, On the Savannah" and elsewhere nods to Eno's sometime collaborator Harold Budd, so the wheel is not reinvented here. But Evans' fondness for environmental sounds, such as the seemingly random inclusions at the start of "A Box In the Middle of a Meadow," results in cool sonic flourishes throughout. The electronic bursts on the "Nowhere Is a Cloud in the Distance" nicely balance the blend of reflection and unease evident in much 21st-century bedroom experimentation.
Points as well for calling the final--and decidedly more melancholic--track "Night Time In the Owsla." There should be more references to Watership Down in this world, especially ones that don't automatically involve Lost.