Reviews True Widow Circumambulation

True Widow

Circumambulation

I know when I think of stoner music, I think of pot-fueled haziness, guitar theatrics straight out of the '60s, and a red-eyed three-piece to play it all. But there is one band that steadfastly refuses to conform to that stereotype, and that's Texan trio True Widow, whose third album, Circumambulation, is one of the most intriguing to come out of the genre this year.

True Widow's take on stoner rock is fittingly hypnotic, their slow, repetitive rhythms pulsing with clockwork regularity, drawing the listener into a trance-like state. While they lack the drawn-out labor of Om or the frantic psychedelia found in Boris, they've taken a healthy dose of shoegaze and injected it into the music, giving it a much more reverent, measured quality while still remaining every bit as loose as their contemporaries. And though it's very slow and deliberate, the music never becomes so droning as to become a lethargic plod; not a moment on this album feels monotonous or unnecessarily ambling.

The only major weak point on this album is that True Widow never really break up their style. They've gone one trick--their self-described "stonergaze"--and they stick to it. Now keep in mind that True Widow do their thing incredibly well; but nonetheless, forty someodd minutes of it can feel like a bit much to the casual listener. (Then again, if you're already a huge fan of stoner music, you'll probably be disappointed that there isn't more.) In addition, there aren't any real standout tracks; nearly all of the pieces on the album hover at about the same level of quality, with only slight variations in either direction. That's not to say they're bad--that constant level is pretty damn good--just that they never really become great. ("Trollstigen" is about as close as they come to a truly memorable track, and even that's pushing it a touch.)

Circumambulation may not be insistent music, but it still deserves to be appreciated for the achievement that it is. It's dark, moving, atmospheric, and horrifically unsettling. It's like they've written the perfect soundtrack for a séance, or possibly some other ritual that involves revolving slowly about a fixed point (I'm sure there has to be a word for that). Fans of stoner anything will find a lot to love in True Widow's latest offering, and fans of shoegaze will appreciate their fresh take on the genre. Definitely give this album your consideration.

7.5 / 10Sarah
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7.5 / 10

7.5 / 10

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