Cul De Sac
Death of the Sun
Strange Attractors
2003
A-



their first studio release since the last millennium, Cul De Sac has returned to the forefront of the post-rock scene with their latest release, Death of the Sun. Sounding vaguely similar to a number of improv bands gaining a large deal of recognition as of late, the No Neck Blues Band and Jackie-o Motherfucker specifically, Cul De Sac retain more structure to their compositions than those aforementioned bands, while retaining the exciting urgency of purpose that informs their music. The group mixes, on this release, the traditional Cul De Sac lineup and newly added talent of Jake Trussel- sampler and sequencer extraordinaire- into the pot.


The album starts off on a strong note with the elegiac “Dust of Butterflies” mixing subtle electronics, sampled voices, a violin, and a beautiful guitar melody. It’s the blueprint for a good deal of the album, but at no point does the combination sound forced or too repetitive. Instead, Cul De Sac have, even over the course of four years, not over-recorded this album in any way. Each element mixes organically with the other, producing a singular and original listen for any open-minded music lover.


Trussel, the new addition to the band, makes his presence most felt on the plodding and creepy atmospherics of “Death of the Sun.” The track moves slowly, picking up speed until the beat suddenly drops out at the six and half minute mark of the song. It soon returns, this time accompanied by a coiled guitar line that resembles some of the guitar sounds that were used by the Future Sound of London on Dead Cities. And odd as the comparison may same, that’s the feel that is given off by the entire album- it is, quite simply, the soundtrack to an empty city. Othwerworldly guitar figures, sampled voices, and a mournful tone all combine together to make this album one that oozes regret.


“I Remember Nothing More” perhaps best exemplifies the emotional landscape that Cul De Sac traverses on Death of the Sun. A lonely guitar line merges with the ebb and flow of an electronic hum, stopping and starting with a simplistic drum pattern. A sampled voice comes up from the static haze wordlessly singing notes that reflect a sadness that is eternal and unknown. Each time the guitar/drum combination begins, however, it seems like it could be last- a musical version of the famous Beckett line: “I can’t go on, I’ll go on.” By the time the song is over, the melody is internalized and the melodic line remains, unwavering in the mind of the listener, forever repeating, forever going on.


Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01
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