These days on my computer, my default music player is iTunes, mostly because it makes using my iPod a whole hell of a lot easier. If you?ve ever used the program, I?m sure you?ve noticed how each CD or song is tagged with a genre. Sometimes these descriptions are roughly accurate and other times completely ridiculous. However, when the genre for Slow Six?s ?Nor?easter? came up, I had to take note, because it articulated what I was already thinking about the album after a few listens. It deemed the disc ?Unclassifiable.?
While familiar styles and instruments are incorporated into ?Nor?easter,? the end product is unlike just about anything else. Included on the CD is violin, viola, cello, electric guitar, grand piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, and computer effects. Using these elements, the group is able to play music that references classical music, jazz, solo electric guitar work, and modern drone and experimental works. Most times, these various styles sit comfortably next to one another in a single piece. If you can imagine a dream collaboration between Philip Glass, Miles Davis, Cluster, and Battles, you might have some idea of what Slow Six is capable of.
The amazing opening track ?The Pulse of This Skyline With Lightning Like Nerves? is superficially the most classical sounding piece on ?Nor?easter,? mainly because of the layered, orchestral sting parts. However, as the song progresses, it yields syncopated, nearly math rock, electric guitars and electric piano. This combination meshes surprisingly well as the strings provide a slower moving counterpart to the tense backgrounds. Another standout is the final track, ?Distant Light, Part 2: ?Now New Colors Fall Like Rain.?? Here, the classical strings come back, but this time the background is positively jazz-like. In fact parts of the song are somewhat reminiscent of ?In A Silent Way,? that is if Miles Davis had wanted to use strings on that album.
?Nor?easter? is packed with many other stunning stylistic shifts that should be heard to be believed. Slow Six not only makes these changes interesting, but also very fluid and cohesive to the listener. One would not think that many of these pieces would fit together, but the group proves that they can. As a whole, the album is a rewarding experience for those who listen to music closely and carefully and/or enjoy when groups are able to stretch the boundaries of what is thought to be acceptable in any particular genre. Really, fans of any of the aforementioned styles should find themselves drawn to this music. 9/10 -- Matt Blackall (29 August, 2007)