Laughing Stock [LP]
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Virtually ignored upon its initial release, Laughing Stock continues to grow in stature and influence by leaps and bounds. Picking up where Spirit of Eden left off, the album operates outside of the accepted sphere of rock to create music which is both delicate and intense; recorded with a large classical ensemble, it defies easy categorization, conforming to very few structural precedents -- while the gently hypnotic 'Myrrhman' flirts with ambient textures, the percussive 'Ascension Day' drifts toward jazz before the two sensibilities converge to create something entirely new and different on 'New Grass.' The epic 'After the Flood,' on the other hand, is an atmospheric whirlpool laced with jackhammer guitar feedback and Mark Hollis' remarkably plaintive vocals; it flows into 'Taphead,' perhaps the most evocative, spacious, and understated piece on the record. A work of staggering complexity and immense beauty, Laughing Stock remains an under-recognized masterpiece, and its echoes can be heard throughout much of the finest experimental music issued in its wake.
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