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The Lava Experiments - Blackbody Vol II

Glasgow's The Lava Experiments appear to have come a long way from the ambient soundtracks and downbeat electronic of their initial releases. Originally the solo-project of Fraser Rowan the past year or so has seen the Glasgow based group expand to include a bass player and a drummer. With new members has come a new sound, and although they deal primarily with ethereal downbeat electronics, there's a distinct move towards elements of shoegaze and post-rock. Blackbody Vol II, follows the initial sold-out volume on Antimatter Music, and should help expand their profile outside of the ambient electronic scene.

By far the highlight of this EP, the second in a planned trilogy, is the captivating 'Piecing Memories Together'. Opening with a windswept drone, it gently unfurls through lush repetitive acoustic guitars, framing the hushed, melodic tones of Fraser Rowan, as it continuously swells to incorporate keyboard chime and haunting atmospherics before bowing out on distorted guitars and windswept atmospherics. It's a beautifully arranged and mature track with a hazy Spiritualized feel, which taps into post-rock mannerisms and even carries feint traces of the fabled Glasgow sound.

There's a distinct eighties sound to 'Sun Flies'. Even though it opens with ambient electronica I can't help but hear tinges of Depeche Mode in the rhythms, bleepy electronics and massed vocals. The guitar lines seem to smack of New Order. These aren't lightweight pop melodies though as The Lava Experiments are dealing in textured, moody atmospheric music. The instrumental piece, 'River Shape' snakes through stuttered electronic rhythms and atmospheric synths. 'Ring To The Dark Place' places Rowan's calm, earnest vocalisations on loneliness against clean rhythmic electronics and atmospheric synths. There's a layer of synthetic strings and a gentle recurrent processed guitar motif woven through the moody arrangement that adds an element of post-rock/shoegaze to the overall electronic sound.

Just listening to Rowan sing "Set my soul free" on the darkly seductive 'The Release' you realise his deep and soothing tones are perfect for this sort of music where ringing electronic guitars and mammoth slabs of buzzing electronics slide off into shoegazey guitar territory.

With a sound based around guitars and analogue synths The Lava Experiments quite often appear to be looking back, but listening to 'Piecing Memories Together' and 'The Release' it's obvious that this is a band who are at their best when looking at their shoes rather than looking behind.

The Lava Experiments launch Blackbody Vol II at Nice n Sleazy, Glasgow on Friday 4 September. For more information go to www.hanamuke.co.uk or www.myspace.com/thelavaexperiments