Knife & Fork

Miserycord (Cutting Board Records)

Moving at the speed of a glacier, Knife & Fork deploys an electro-torch sound that skirts genres as varied as experimental ambient and the Gregorian blues. Melancholic Laurie Hall, who helms the Bay Area's Ovarian Trolley, possesses a cystalline yet downbeat voice that transports her emotional baggage through customs without a hitch -- but leaves her stranded in a world where strangers roam the streets lost, shivering and desperately alone. Beneath Hill's soulful soprano, session vet Eric Drew Feldman (whose keyboard textures have graced works by Captain Beefheart, Pere Ubu, PJ Harvey and the Residents) blends together sparse melodies, tribal beats and dark symphonic dissonance -- all of which give this quiet debut a certain film-noir elegance. Preoccupied with angels, misery and uncertainty, the outfit endures a winter of Siberian proportions. Standout track "Dream Sweet" recalls Portishead with its muted trumpet and staggering tempo, while the album's weepy title track remains essential listening for anyone who's had a dark day or two.

 
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