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The Double U 

Falling Lanterns
(Emperor Jones)

Wednesday, Aug 23 2000
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For seven years, the Double U has been fashioning a sort of anomalous alt-chamber rock that both pleases and puzzles. The band's third album is an expansion and refinement of the Double U sonic palette -- the loping vignettes and peculiar vocal garglings of prior releases are leavened by the cartoonish vocals and instrumental embellishments of new members Linda Hagood and Christopher "Fozzy" Holden. By tempering past eccentricity with a dose of something approaching accessibility, the Double U has crafted a more varied and friendlier recording.

Many of the song titles on Falling Lanterns do a credible job of tune synopsis. "Ghost of an Acrobat" features circuslike music replete with Spike Jones sound effects. "Drunken Butterfly" waltzes woozily through an eerie fog of reverb; "Rickenroodle" is an alien surf instrumental accentuated with belched vocals; and "Iridescent Sleepwalker" sounds pretty much like what you'd expect, with its somnambulistic rhythms and keyboard/bassist Matt Hall's unsettling vocals. The minor-key brood of "Ephemeral Epaulet" is, like several other tracks, vaguely reminiscent of compatriots Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 (not surprisingly, frequent TFUL282 associate Greg Freeman recorded and co-produced the album).

The group's subdued and predominantly instrumental aesthetic has a definite filmic quality; not surprisingly, an included tune, "Brambles," serves as the soundtrack for an animated short by Hall. (A still from the film doubles as the disc's cover.)

The Double U smartly kept this disc to a reasonable length: After a half-hour of spasmodic riffs, harmonious strings, gibbering elfin voices, and the occasional cricket, things tie up congenially with "Beetle Lantern Bog Swap," an artsy little prog-chantey that invokes both the Residents' back catalog and the national anthem for some obscure Eastern Bloc breakaway state.

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Mike Rowell

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