No. 2: Abyss In B Minor (4AD)
Shoegazing Norwegian space-rock enthusiasts Serena Maneesh follow up 2006’s five-track Zurück with another set of tunes that hovers expertly between haunting beauty and complete aural chaos. No. 2: Abyss in B Minor — the band’s debut release on the most holy of goth-centric, post-rock proving grounds, 4AD Records — was recorded in a cave outside of Oslo, mixed by krautrock engineer and Can mainstay Rene Tinner, and then mastered at Hampstead’s legendary Air Studios by Ray Staff (he mastered Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti there). It might seem like a long creative journey for an album whose eight songs fade out in less than 40 minutes, but it’s a sonic expedition worth every step. Although No. 2 sometimes sounds a little like Can or Medicine being piped into a wind tunnel — or in this case, a cave — the music is strong and stylized enough to keep the album from falling flat. No spacerock album would be complete without walls of atmospheric, jangly guitars (“Melody for Jaana”) rubbing elbows with undulating bass lines (“Blow Yr Brains In the Morning Rain”), and shuffle hi-hat beats filled with ghost snare notes. No. 2 has plenty of this, but on tracks like “Reprobate!” and album opener “Ayisha Abyss,” Serena Maneesh gets down to the business of melodic mayhem and fistpumping post-rock virtuosity.