It is just after 7am and I’ll soon be getting ready for work. As I’m writing this review it’s starting to hail outside. It is startling because the impact of each little ball of hail is quite loud on the roof and the shed outside my window. I have never seen such large hail. I have always wondered if there is some complex mathematical equation that would explain the weather, life, and everything in general—an equation like the one pondered by the brilliant but paranoid mathematician in Darren Arnofsky’s Pi. Cave Deaths also reminds me of mathematical equations.
Back when the mp3 was invented, those on the more independent side of things put to advantage this new digital format. They recorded live shows, diced up the tracks and allowed website visitors to download them for free over the World Wide Web. Those days are mostly gone, but when they still existed I discovered a little known and now defunct band called Automaton Adventure Series. Their sound was loud but technical and included a solo trumpet. I fell in love with a song called “Shark Attack” and would, years later, come across the 7” of the tune for $0.99 at Easy Street Music in Seattle.
Cave Deaths reminds me a lot of Automaton Adventure Series, which also added what sounded like countless musical math equations into their sound. “Yawn…Click” and “Hand” closely follow this style. When it parts from sounding like Automaton Adventure Series, it carries a strong hint of The Chromatics and maybe a little early mewithoutYou. Yet when Holly Habstritt takes over on lead vocals in “Merry Christmas,” you can almost hear a little bit of Rainer Maria.
It’s post rock in a minimalistic and mathematical sense. Half shouted, half talked and barely sung lyrics are pure poetry while Habstritt matches guitar plucks on her trumpet and speaks in harmonies with the main vocals. The sound is brilliant and hypnotic. While some songs are a bit on the long side, like “Gaargh Returns to Work” and “Background Radiation,” the length does not detract from the song as it is easy to get lost in the harmonically spoken and often repetitive vocals. A must-hear of 2006, Glacier on Fire is absolutely wonderful, holistically beautiful, and entirely acute!
This review was originally posted June 13, 2006 on the old version of FensePost.
Cave Deaths: Background Radiation [mp3]
[audio:090208_cave_deaths_-_background_radiation.mp3|titles=Background Radiation|artists=Cave Deaths]
Modern Radio [CD, 2006]
2. Gaargh Returns To Work
3. Background Radiation
6. Loose Lips
9. Over Shellfish
10. From Here, Not Here
11. Merry Christmas