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The Slow Signal Fade

The 1980s hangover currently gripping popular music can be a little tedious, but it's not an unpleasant experience when channeled by the up-and-coming Los Angeles band The Slow Signal Fade on its recent six-song CD, Through the Opaque Air.

Instead of continuing that decade's legacy of sugary synth-pop radio hits, the members of The Slow Signal Fade look for their inspiration in darker post-punk sounds of such acts as Public Image Ltd., Joy Division and the under-appreciated Savage Republic. The groan-and-drone sound of the music is bass-heavy, narcotic and romantic in a manner a tad short of Gothic--more ethereal touchstones might include My Bloody Valentine, This Mortal Coil and the contemporary Denali. It's enjoyable, sometimes even catchy, but just not remarkable.

What is notable about the band is Sri Lankan singer Marguerite Olivelle, whose presence makes the CD truly special. Olivelle's lovely, languorous vocals and broad range make a perfect counterpoint to the driving syncopations of the music. This juxtaposition reaches its emotional peak in the delicate musical architecture of "Get a Glimpse" and the epic 7 1/2-minute closer, "Backstroke."

Never mind the shoe-gazers; this is deeper: dream pop that brings to mind a spider's web of blown glass. Call it soul-gazer.

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