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Review: Liquid Casing’s A Separate Divide

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The press notes for Liquid Casin’s A Separate Divide announce that the Texas quarted are “a uniquely politically charged collective who hope to shine light on ‘Man’s exploitative use of arbitrary divides’ (borders) through [their] lyrics.” Let’s excuse the fact that they don’t think I understand what a “divide” is and jump right in and see if they achieve all they promise!

“A Path of Footprints Forged in the Midnight Sand” kicks the album off with a low grumbling that hits you in your stomach. Bowels, if you’re feeling crude. The intertwining lead and back-up vocals with the guitar and steady beat kind of make you feel like you’re hearing voices, especially if you’re listening with crappy headphones. But it’s dreamy and meandering, and while you might assume that it’s going to set the tone for the rest of the album, the next cut, “Alambrista,” comes in with its frenetic sax and strumming, a schizophrenic mix of soft and loud culminating in a frantic solo that trails into the next song, “Fingerprint Armada.” The tune reintroduces the vocals — but they actually detract from the song, making it softer than it ought to sound with the incessant use of crashing drums.

Each track slowly ebbs into the one that follows, so no beginning or ending is ever totally clear. That being said, “The End That Divides” has a different feel to it. The sax is back and the intro is a haunting mix of its mournful wail and rhythmic, synchronized guitars and drums. It segues into the longest song on the album, “For A Memory Erased,” which at ten minutes seems to be their ode to Shpongle. It’s carefully monitored chaos in that although they allow themselves to go crazy, the band is well aware when to rein it in as they tap out the marching rhythm mid-song before going reverb crazy by the end.

The rest of the album is more of the same, but the sax touches funk up each number and keep it from getting too boring. In “Non-Linear Solution,” it’s like they came up with a jazz song that misfit goths who somehow ended up at Berklee composed. The last song of the record, the Muse-seque “Riot Path,” is easily the strongest. Its creepy slow beginning brings to mind credits rolling after a psychological apocalypse movie. (Do those exist?) It’s creepy and slow with an even slower build  and the vocals guide it along its seven-minute whirlwind of angst. But yay sax!

I’m not sure if I’m fully aware of man’s exploitative use of arbitrary divides (which means borders) now, but if you’re into that trippy The-Mars-Volta-meets-The-Doors proggy pretension thing, they’ll probably be your new favorite band.

Liquid Casing’s A Separate Divide is out now. Stream or purchase it here.

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