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Talking Book II Review - 'A soundtrack for the of the world'

In recent times we have seen Bill Gould involved in some rather unique projects. He produced Rockabul - a film about musical freedom in Afghanistan. He wrote accompanying prose for paintings by Balkan artist Slavko Krunić in the book Mausoleum of Perfection. Musically he has provided bass and production skills to Chilean hip hop on the latest Cómo Asesinar a Felipes albums and returned to his heavy roots guesting on Shane Embury's Tronos record. Talking Book II is no exception to this uniqueness. Bill and Jared Blum met in 2005 - standing in line for a sandwich on Hamburger Tuesday in the Lower Haight. After working together on several projects the two developed a musical connection and in 2011 released the first Talking Book album. The original record is an abstract expressionistic recording - dark and atmospheric with rich textures and distinctive melodies. Bearded Magazine described it as having, 'the melancholy, sepia-toned feel of a faded old photograph found in a strangers house, full of old ghosts, almost-forgotten memories and a real sense of encroaching decay.' Talking Book became a trio when they were joined by Dominic Cramp to perform the music live for dates in the U.S and Chile. Gould, Blum and Cramp now return with a follow up offering available via Koolarrow Records on April 24th. Talking Book II is an experience. It is a journey which plays like the soundtrack to a yet unmade film. It is an album for those with imagination as the music succeeds in conjuring up vivid and chaotic images. The beauty of having a soundscape with no accompanying visuals is that this enables the listener to create their own personal imagery. Rather than bringing characters to life these sounds set scenes in vast hallucinatory landscapes. The scenes and moods set by Talking Book II could be that of science fiction, thriller, horror or spaghetti western. Like all great movie accompaniments Talking Book II builds suspense, creates unsettling tension and shares euphoric and triumphant moments. It’s hard to pick tracks that standout as the the album plays as one continuous narrative, however the first track Blood Aurora has decaying tones and haunted piano sounds similar to those found on the first album. On track two Thermal Drift, the music reaches new realms with otherworldly noise reminiscent of Vangelis’ 80’s synthesizer themes. As well as cosmic noise there are organic and earthy sounds. The trio themselves tell us that the music describes the end of a civilisation, this is best illustrated by the track The Last Time She Died through which the antiquated grainy tones will exile you to a baron and crumbing landscape.

Each track introduces fresh sounds, and even though there are moments that are not too dissimilar from the stark soundtracks of John Carpenter there is always a complex sonic layering of undefinable noise beneath. The track Early Sorrows is exhilarating and the unexpected acoustic guitar of closing track Absent Horizon would play perfectly over the credits to this fig-mental movie. You should go into this expecting to be transported into other worlds and realms of imagination. Best heard alone on earphones and with no distractions. This is the perfect soundtrack to accompany the current world climate, a soundtrack to distract you, a soundtrack for the end of the world as we know it.

Talking Book II will be released on April 24th via Koolarrow Records, to download and on 12" vinyl limited to 500 copies pre-order HERE.

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