The mystical sound magi of Louisville, Kentucky's Eyes and Arms of Smoke conjure a rare magic on their "A Religion of Broken Bones" LP. This record exhibits a kind of scattered, what-the-hell aura, which materializes in an unclassifiable instrumental sound that brings together chamber music, jazz, folk, electronics and more into a smooth, kinetic sound tunnel to the other side. Some of it is quite composed; other parts are definitely free. So, I suppose this could be thrown in the free folk camp, though the other releases I?ve heard from EaAoS veer closer to dub inflected industrial drone.
Two bands come to mind when listening to this album. The first is Portland?s schizoid lounge crawlers Rollerball, and I mean that really only in that they both have a sort of schizoid aura. Elements of many styles are found in the first track alone, ?Pioneers of Sleep? (now there?s a song title), starting with a minimal guitar melody before downbeat brass and cello trills fill a gray sky. Guest Greg Kelley?s (of Cold Bleak Heat and Heathen Shame) trumpet can be heard in the treated tonal swells at the opening of ?Eyes and Arms of Smoke,? easily 90 seconds of the most gorgeous organic drone I?ve heard this year, before the track shifts dramatically into a rustling acoustic dash across the decayed forest floor. Cue high pitched vocal harmonies and you might experience fevered flashbacks to Comus?s ?First Utterance? also. But to their credit, Eyes and Arms of Smoke incorporate a m?lange of bizarre chamber instrumentation into their decidedly electronic prog-edelic meanderings to reveal a unique, part orchestrated/part improvised, entirely live/organic sound.
This is haunted music with a great deal of character. It reminds me of other psych and noise genre perverts, such as Cerberus Shoal, the aforementioned Rollerball and Sun City Girls, but EaAoS maintains its own forlorn signature sound with fluctuating tempos and style shifts that are as nebulous as the band name. By the time 14 min closer ?Nemesis? kicks in at a full gallop of room saturating drones, cello and raga guitars, it?s apparent that these people have crafted something quite visionary. ?A Religion of Broken Bones? ain?t too shabby, but it is just shabby enough to enthrall from start to finish. 8/10 -- Lee Jackson (27 June, 2006)