Serena-Maneesh - "Abyss In B Minor"
(4AD 2010)

From Aural Innovations #41 (October 2010)

Okay, so without droning on and on about the brilliance of the first album - its sublime mix of melody and menace, its vocal passages to make you feel as if your soul were being cleansed by the heavens - and also without dwelling on the fact that it's been such a long wait for the next album, and not carping on how disappointing an album we have here in comparison... but rather trying to view this as a self-contained recording that deserves to be judged by its own merits... But, ah, there it is - the very droning and dwelling inescapably dwelling themselves in the above words. And, damnit, I find myself incapable of keeping my feelings about the debut out of this review... and this album's too short! If they'd included a few more tracks, it might have yielded an extra gem, going by the general ratio of the album. Oh well.

Still, the opener Ayisha Abyss is a blazing hotrod out of hell, the band tearing through this dark heavy-ass kick-off of a tune... certainly tighter than before, the bass playing a more agile role, and the myriad effects all a beautiful blur. I Just Want to See Your Face starts off with a brutal riff but then becomes a My Bloody Valentine clone... and the MBV style is actually quite blatant on this album... if it was present on the debut, it was cloaked by the transcendent beauty of the very tunes themselves. Reprobate! contains the one and only female vocal melody that equals the ones of the debut. Melody for Jaana is more in the style of the slow fuzzed-out doomy MBV tracks. The midway tunes are somewhat catchy, but not terribly exhilarating. There's nothing else to be said until the closer Magdalena (Symphony #8), which has a pleasant enough fade-out. Still, knowing what this band is capable of, I'll be first in line to snatch up #3.

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Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg

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