Monday, February 7, 2011

Night-Shining, 'nuff said

Hey folks,

If ya needed something more pleasantly atmospheric to counter the remaining gloom of February--and you fancy an occasional saber in your soundscape--try Dark Age, an older album by Mike Romeo, who records as Night-Shining. Night-Shining, by the way, is an adjective that describes a type of cloud. Who Nuage.

Here's le review:

Night-Shining is the nom de tune of Williamsburg’s Mike Romeo, and it amply describes the wandering, hazy dreampop that leaves vapor trails all over last summer’s full-length digital release, Dark Age. Opener “Ghost” also features the kind of mid-tempo, stylish electronica that could easily reside on Bibio’s Ambivalence Avenue, and the stately, minimalist beginning of “Believe.Never” could likewise grace Beach House’s Teen Dream. Skittering piano notes and dainty Wurlitzer runs ornament these promising songs, and while the lyrics are hard to make out, Romeo and a female singer lay soothing, gauzy vocals over the instruments. With acoustic guitar and shaker, “Vultures” emerges from such lush reverie into a parched, articulate menace: “After all we are just animals / Picking up the scraps,” Romeo sings. Dissolving into a threatening shimmer, the chorus continues to evoke a sense of dread.

Then, the album drifts a little. “We Wait” is a derivative example of West Coast songwriting, and “December,” “White Rose,” and “Woods” resume the starlit walks of the album’s two openers, but don’t seem to get anywhere. Like glimpses of illuminated animals in the underbrush, ghostly synths appear and disappear on the margins of the soundscapes, but they aren’t enough to offset the aimlessness here.

But Dark Age turns again on another desert dirge: the splendid, penultimate “White House.” Over a simple acoustic melody, Romeo sings about a reunion in the shadow of a place that is “lonely and dead.” Backing chants, tambourine and snare, and the quiet, steadfast guitar line complement each other perfectly. Closer “This Silence” is a piano meditation on emptiness that recalls elements of The Verve’s “Sonnet.” “Why does it always have to feel this way?” Romeo asks. Preceded by the stellar accomplishment of “White House,” the singer’s sentiment gains legitimacy, and sets the stage for future work.

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