Intronaut - _Valley of Smoke_
(Century Media, 2010)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (
Many a listener with minimal patience and attention to detail could deem a band like Los Angeles' Intronaut 'confusing' or even the blasphemous 'boring'. Their works require multiple preliminary listens just to be comprehended, let alone fully enjoyed. Two years after the release of the fantastic work of art that is _Prehistoricisms_, Intronaut are back with _Valley of Smoke_, and they are once again making me want to ignore the ridiculous shipping and customs costs to Egypt and order it anyway.Intronaut's music is a mix of sludgy guitars with gritty nuances, a combination of vein-bursting and spaced out vocals and one of the sturdiest, most astounding rhythm sections ever to come my way. Fretless five string guru Joe Lester and drummer Danny Walker put their heads together ever so brilliantly all over this _Valley of Smoke_. The metallic up-tempo of "Sunderance" and the mellow section of "Miasma" are fine examples of how much input these two guys put into the songs and elevate them to higher levels. If you thought Walker's terrific drumming on "Any Port" from _Prehistoricisms_ was awe-inspiring, then be prepared for a similar facial expression that "Valley of Smoke" will invoke. It seems like Intronaut are developing a habit of fascinating us with a single track that's overloaded with drumming brilliance, and that's something I could get used to.After doing such a great job with _Prehistoricisms_, Josh Newell was once again recruited to produce _Valley of Smoke_ -- and make no mistake about it, he did yet another great job. Nothing on _Valley of Smoke_ sounds overtly polished, and the down-tuned notes don't sound muddy at all. The drums have a warm sound and the voices of guitarists Sasha Dunable and Dave Timnick mix very well with each other; a new idea that proved successful and could become an integral element in future Intronaut works. All these elements give the album a natural sound that complements the music quite masterfully.Another interesting little anecdote about this _Valley of Smoke_ is the fact that it's loosely based on the city of Los Angeles, which obviously has an impact on the lives of those who live there. In the language of the Native American Chumash tribe, the area that is now Los Angeles was called "the valley of smoke" because of the accumulated camp fire smog above it, caused by being surrounded by mountains. The surroundings of course haven't changed much in 2010, but what's inside is completely different. The concept still holds though, with the automotive and industrial smog substituting that of the camp fires. So this time around, the inspiration was more modern than prehistoric, but the result is again an awesome Intronaut record.
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