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SEVEN MILE JOURNEY (Buy CDs by this artist)
The Journey Studies (Dan. Fono'gram Agency/VME) 2006

Although it lists only four tracks, this Danish instrumental quintet's debut clocks in at 42 minutes, nearly all of them understated, eloquent and deeply seductive. As formal and controlled as Neu! (but warm and welcoming in ways the German pioneers never allowed themselves to be) but also stately and majestic (though neither to the degree of the far more remote Sigur Rós), Seven Mile Journey uses guitars, bass and drums to weave lush tapestries of organically beautiful music alive with energy and imagination. Although inevitably drawn to the rising and falling of tempo and volume as ways to modulate repetition, The Journey Studies does a lot more than that, using minor keys and compositional skill to make the seven-and-a-half minutes of "Through the Alter Ego Justifications" pass in what seems like mere moments. "Passenger's Log, the Unity Fractions," which is helpfully divided rhythmically into movements, and "Theme for the Oddmory Philosophies" both further the sensation of mobile film score music, but it's the finale, "The Murderer/Victim Monologues," which knocks it out of the park. From the introductory blips of a heavily reverbed lead guitar figure (which threads the whole 15-minute song together) over gently strummed chords, the piece builds monumentally, through sections that suggest the surf exhilaration of "Miserlou," pointillist sparsity and stronger rock, to finally resolve itself in a cloud of high-speed-and-volume strumming that fades out over a heartbeat pulse. Magnificent.

[Ira Robbins]