Six albums in, and Southern minimalists Labradford are still tapping fresh reserves of dreamy dread. Since 1992, Carter Brown, Robert Donne and Mark Nelson have been refining their go-slow ambience, a solemn cousin to Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Tortoise. You know the kind of thing: strings and pianos come and go; sometimes there’s more digitals; most often, though, there’s very little to hold onto at all, simply the ghostly ache of a band who once played in a disused synagogue in east London with no electricity, just candlelight and history.
Clearly, these guys from Richmond, Virginia know about atmosphere. And ‘Fixed::Content’ comes with Labradford’s usual dark alleyful of humid analogue hums and stealth percussion. This time, though, they’ve retired the strings that made their last two records – ‘E Luxo So’ and ‘Mi Media Naranja’ – almost conventional. Instead, there are six-string basses, dub burbles and desert rock twangs, all left bare by the unforgiving production of Steve Albini.
For all the lonely notes, though, the overall effect is still lush as a graveyard lawn – as the 18 minutes of ‘Twenty’ will attest. But chamber music has taken a back seat to peyote landscapes and, in the case of ‘Wien’, a happy tune. Well, almost.