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  Fits and Cycles  
  Little Black Cloud Records  
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Here we have the third full-length from Virginian pop act Cinemasophia, and it is also their third lineup. This time, Cinemasophia have added a keyboardist named Elise Steenburgh to layer female vocals alongside the voice of main man Landis Wine. This was actually a rather brilliant move on their part, as Ms. Steenburgh's light voice is a perfect accompaniment to Mr. Wine's well, slightly whiny voice. And by "whiny" here i do not mean that his lyrics are a litany of complaints, but rather that his voice is kind of high and flat not a falsetto, but the man is not a tenor either. The female voice goes very well with this, and i find that her presence adds a nice bit of depth to the music.

Not that Cinemasophia needed more depth. Their compositions are deep almost to the point of murkiness. There is a lot going on in any one song layers of guitar and voice and effects and keyboards and rhythm. This is the type of music that holds up very well to deep listening with your headphones on. There are layers upon layers to peel back, each revealing still more layers.

And yet, the songs never sound busy. Cinemasophia make music that is complex and catchy and interesting, yet never overwhelms the listener. Case in point: Given Hell, off of this record. This tune starts out with a walking bass line a la Shipping News, then adds in voice and guitar and drums, and keyboards, and more voice, and more guitar, etc. And then, at some point, the sound is dense, a real cacophony surrounding the listener. It is like taking a nice walk, and first you notice a few trees, then, without really being aware of the transition, you are in a forest.

That is actually a pretty standard format for a Cinemasophia song -- start simple and they add on layers and layers and layers. This is a very delicate process, as there is a fine line between "complex" and "overdone". Cinemasophia walk that line, never straying into "overdone" territory. At least, that is what i find. I think that some listeners might find this music too dense even as it is. I don't think anyone with a fondness for shoegaze or dreampop would be turned off, but some fans of folk music or alt-country might find Cinemasophia to be a bit much. So be forewarned.

Even though the band has added Ms. Steenburgh to their lineup for this record, there really isn't a lot of change to their sound since their last record, 2007's Whole Ghosts. Musically the band is still exploring their sound, and that is fine. If you liked that record, i bet you will like this one. If you have not enjoyed their earlier outings, then i don't think that Fits and Cycles is going to change your mind.

Still, there is a lot to enjoy here. I already mentioned Given Hell, which has suddenly become my second favorite Cinemasophia song, right alongside Army Coats. I also really enjoy Two Flights Downstairs which is a noisy rock tune, with guitars squealing in distortion under a great post-punk bass riff. This builds to a lovely frenzy. On the other end of the spectrum, ... And Then Quietly is a mellowish tune with scattered percussion and guitar arpeggios strewn about under a nice layer of Wine and Steenburgh's vocals.

Cinemasophia continue to be a band that i find interesting. They are touring for Fits and Cycles, and this time playing Atlanta (at The Drunken Unicorn on Friday.22.May.2009). I am fascinated to see what they do live.

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Also on EvilSponge:
   Album: Dialectic
   Album: Whole Ghosts


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