Appleseed Cast - Low Level Owl: Vol II (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Appleseed Cast

Low Level Owl: Vol II (2001)

Deep Elm

I've always enjoyed the works of The Appleseed Cast. They just had a way about them. Incorporating beautiful, haunting vocals, dissonant guitars, and dense atmopsherics. All this with well-written but abstract poetic lyrics. When added up, you've got yourself a good product.

This is exemplified well by Low Level Owl Volume Two.

The Appleseed Cast have a certain way about them, a way that incorporates so much through so many layers, but is able to simplify it all. The added synth does not clutter, as some bands all too often let happen. Everything flows, and everything meshes.

The Appleseed Cast do not hold true to a specific song structure here, and it adds so much to the music. Nothing feels put in as a rush decision to fill space, nothing feels uneccessary. Every synth string is perfectly plucked, every tap on the snare drum glides seamlessly into the guitar chord or piano key that follows. Continuity is the word folks, and this album is where to find it. Along with that goes atmosphere. And that's what they're trying to create. A vast scape of sounds, that put you in such a mindset that everything is slowed down. You here every single chord, tap on the wood block, ring of a sleigh bell. It's all there for you.

Another good adjective for this ambitious project: epic. They're trying to pick up exactly where Volume One left off, yet do so much more with it. Where as Volume One was more centered on a hook and a rhythm, this takes you past that. There's not many rising crescendos, or momentum changing splashes; it's all about mood. I found myself sometimes not realizing it was the same song any longer; I was that entranced. Not the "this shits so boring I want to sleep" entranced, but the kind where you're following so intently that everything the music does to you subconsiously comes to the forefront. The vocals are far less apparent than on previous efforts, save "A Place In Line," where the lyrics serve as a rare centerpiece.

That's not where this album's strength lies, however. Listen to "Confession," the album's closer, if you want a true feel for what's trying to be accomplished here. The sheer beauty in this song is overwhelming. The piano and guitar loops and drum machine creates such an eerie calm and such an atmosphere that you can do nothing but listen intently. Amazement in its simplicity: that's where the true strength lies. The inctricity in some of the moments of this album are mindblowing, but when it's stripped down to nothing it shines just as brightly.

This album is good folks, real good. Your head will swirl around everything there is to hear, and not let you back down until the feedback has subsided. It's a far cry from the wrenching End Of The Ring Wars or Mare Vitalis, but it's so epic in scope and granduer that you'll toss those to the side. Find it, own it, love it, just don't expect to fully understand it; that's not why it was made. Your fifty-five minutes will be some of the best you've spent.