Cover, Protective, Individual
Less is a curious band. That is my first impression after learning that, according to my trusty press release, their previous album, Piano Wire Smile, is alterna-metal roughly in the vein of Tool, NIN, and Rage Against the Machine. That introduction certainly cant prepare you for the sounds contained on Cover, Protective, Individual (apparently Less obeys the time-honored tradition of naming albums by haphazardly combining three unrelated words).
Cover, Protective, Individual consists mainly of lots of spooky Middle-Eastern tinged acoustic guitar melodies backed by bleak, droning, and equally spooky vocals. The percussion and other sounds are minimal and fitting of the dark Eastern vibe: a few occasional drum sounds, rattling on bells, occasional background electronics, and even a horn or two. This is slow-moving and absorbing stuff. There are really no hooks here, and nothing that could be described as catchy. Cover, Protective, Individual seems to run together at times but has its captivating and even hypnotic moments when given full attention. The albums dark atmosphere is well decorated by the beautifully recorded acoustic guitars which are upfront in the mix and crisp enough for you to hear fingers scraping the strings.
Other facets of the album are fully congruent with the musical direction. The lyrics are opaque and have a frightening quality to them. Or maybe its a would be truly frightening if I could only decipher them quality. As you would expect, the album art follows suit: dark, obscure, ambiguous. A blurry, tilted photo of a Victorian looking woman. A bunch of parchment with blurry, unreadable writing. Whatever. Add up the music, the lyrics, the artwork, the album title, even the bands name, and youd have to try really, really hard to be more obscure. If Less goes platinum, I think we can be assured of thousands upon thousands of fans writing long philosophical expositions about its songs. These will be eerily similar to the legions of Internet message board posters who write treatises concerning the relationship between Tool songs, UFOs, and satanic geometry.
That is all beside the point though. The bottom line is that Less have created a dark, engaging, and musically interesting album. Those who demand obvious and immediate hooks will run far away. For those who appreciate a bit of depth and experimentalism added to their brooding, acoustic rock album, then Cover, Protective, Individual is just about a must-listen.
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