Chamber music was conceived as an equation of size, space and intimacy: The smaller the room and ensemble, the more direct and informal the performance. With its debut album, They Have Already Defeated Us at What We Know Best, Strangers Die Everyday has recast the humble chamber quartet in a post-punk sphere -- and crafted a sound as tense and engulfing as that of any hyperbolically amplified rock band. Comprising cello, violin, drums and electric bass, the Boulder group isn't the first to attempt such a setup. But the layered mood and melody of these eight instrumentals falls between A Silver Mt. Zion's lulling string floes and Hanged Up's more harshly textured constrictions, all the while touching on the dense and stately tautness of Rachel's. As muscularly raw as it is, though, They Have Already Defeated Us is undeniably chamber music; the only difference is that the rooms it echoes across are the tender, trembling atria of the human heart. -- Heller
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