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Caul: Let the Stars Assume the Whole of Night

October 19, 2012

To listen to Caul’s Let the Stars Assume the Whole of Night is to willingly immerse yourself in the artist’s incredibly potent emotional currents as he moves effortlessly through changing styles. The disc is presented in what amount to short vignettes with strong cinematic overtones, fully painted scenes with impact and dimension. The tone overall is a bit moody and reflective, never crossing over into full-on maudlin but certainly graced in large part with a certain sadness. Some of the most affecting tracks happen when Caul slides into a sort of shoe-gazey post-rock zone. “Upon the Vines” sounds like someone gave Arvo Pärt a slot in just such a band, with arcing, choral vocals spiraling over a superbly plodding, bass-loaded rhythm section. Big drumbeats hammer out the backdrop. “Words of Praise” follows suit, with that blend of softly wailing vocals and a catchy, albeit slowly counted off, beat. In other tracks the feel shifts toward a  more neo-classical sense. The closing track, “A Clear Eye Loves the Shadows As Well” features rich string sounds that slowly move through their paces with a slight hint of Henryk Górecki. “She Is Holy to Those Who Are Lost or Dead” has a chamber music sense about it. A slightly muted piano picks out a tentative melody, accompanied by a very deliberate bass line. This atmosphere is shrouded in dense fog; the experience is dreamlike. Speaking of that feeling, “Just One Autumn for Ripe Songs” takes you through some half-awake, edge-of-nightmare spaces. Echoing piano and long pulls on low-end strings mix with a cold-wind backdrop and disconcerting tumbles of percussion, just light taps like half-heard footsteps all around you. This track will stay with you.  What strikes me most throughout the disc is its strongly organic/acoustic feel. Caul blends his electronic and acoustic sources well, which makes the whole thing feel very personal, exhibiting a shared intimacy that, with the darker feel working through it, can almost border on discomforting.  The shortness of the tracks–the longest is just over six minutes–has the effect of taking you into a new place, a new thought and feel, while you’re still firmly in the grasp of the last very real batch of emotions Caul has poured into you. I have been through this disc many, many times since I received it. I feel like I’m always hearing some new element as I go through. There’s a lot going on, and it’s all handled beautifully. You must hear Let the Stars Assume the Whole of Night.

Available from Hypnos.

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