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Sutcliffe Catering Co.: Sedentary Life 

Although Sedentary Life contains a mere seven songs, most of them brief, Sutcliffe Catering Co. mastermind Michael Hayes has said that it is the group's first full-length album. And he's right—it plays as a complete statement and as a suite made of fragments of texture and mood. That's not to say the individual tracks don't stand on their own, because they most certainly do. But Sedentary Life is a rare undertaking where the whole markedly outweighs the sum of its parts.

Sutcliffe Catering Co. continues to refine its single-minded path of dizzying instrumental passages with antecedents found in all sorts of places—early electronic test records, 20th-century avant-garde classical music, shoegaze and noise-rock, matched with detached and distant singing. The beauty of Sedentary Life lies in its own vertigo; by the time you think you've nailed down what's happening, the moment has passed.

"Andrea Del Sarto" opens the record with a gently driving drum beat pulsating through the next door neighbor's apartment wall, with gauzy guitars that resemble the reverberations of guitar playing that has already ended, until the song is overcome with abrasive noise. As disorienting as "Hydrops" and "Creosote Bush" get, they're grounded in a certain stillness that permeates the entire album.

Sedentary Life's greatest strength is its ambiguous refusal to stay in one place long enough to decode it.

More by Joshua Levine

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