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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Album Of The Day-Danava-"UnonoU" (2008)

The Album Of The Day is "UnonoU" by Danava.


It may sound like a whole lot of nonsense psychobabble, but, in a way, the title of Danava's second album, UnonoU, is not only perfectly suited to this uniquely enigmatic, often downright perplexing band, but the word probably means something important in the language of their native planet. Actually, there's a hypothesis! After all, Danava's eponymous first album already suggested that they might be visitors from a distant galaxy, located somewhere between Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and Rush's favorite black hole, "Cignus X-1" ("That's Portland, Oregon, alright!" some may say). As if to corroborate this alien origin conspiracy theory, UnonoU's striking artwork is reminiscent of the golden era of sci-fi novels, and, just as did those famous works by Asimov, Bradbury, Heinlein, etc., it doesn't quite prepare musical astronauts to blast off into Danava's latest, highly idiosyncratic interstellar adventure. At least like most rockets, UnonoU's first half achieves escape velocity by way of several short stages; with the title cut and "Where Beauty and Terror Dance," establishing their elliptical orbits somewhere between the Everyman hard rock of Kiss and the more secretive, twisted inscrutability of Blue Öyster Cult, while the increasingly adventurous synthesizer-heavy prog of "The Emerald Snow of Sleep" and the mutant jerky funk of "A High or a Low" cite everyone from Hawkwind, to the Who, to T. Rex, to King Crimson (listen for those synthetic horn sections). Now approaching warp speed, UnonoU's second half finds Danava stretching their song lengths beyond the eight-minute mark, and their creativity to the very breaking point, via three marathon voyages of varying success, yet with frequent high points. First up, the convoluted "Spinning Temple Shifting" sees vocally challenged guitarist Dusty Sparkles (still sounding like a deranged Ozzy, most of the time) and octopus-limbed drummer Buck Rothy fighting to make sense of their own excessively Byzantine rhythm shifts, before finding ultimate salvation in a blissfully straightforward, hard-driving metallic cruise-control. Next in line, "Down from a Cloud, Up from the Ground" fares quite a bit better overall, generally sticking to slower, doom-like tempos, overlaid with evocative synthesizer orchestrations and a very Iommi-esque solo from Sparkles, for a stunning fusion of Rush and Black Sabbath. And, where to begin describing the album's final, thirteen-minute head trip, "One Mind Gone Separate Ways"? Part creepy intro theme from The Omen, part bruising hard rock chug lifted directly from Led Zeppelin's "Achilles' Last Stand," part sheer epic lunacy à la Tales from Topographic Oceans (and the familiar, Close Encounters of the Third Kind note progression is probably in there somewhere!), suffice to say that it's a journey into a parallel sonic universe, to be sure. So, what's an astronaut to do after surviving such a kaleidoscopic mission across the galaxy? Well, on the one hand it's somewhat troubling to realize that Danava's appeal often depends as much on their weirdness as on their musical talent; on the other, it's refreshingly liberating to encounter a band so utterly at ease with almost certain commercial failure, for the sake of following their alien space muse. At the end of the day, though, the biggest compliment that UnonoU pays to its creators is affirming that Danava may sometimes sound like several different bands, yet no band sounds quite like Danava. God bless their pointy little heads -- "Na-noo na-noo, UnonoU! (Eduardo Rivadavia, All Music Guide)

Track Listing:

01. Unonou
02. Where Beauty & Terror Dance
03. The Emerald Snow of Sleep
04. A High or a Low
05. Spinning Temple Shifting
06. Down from a Cloud, Up from the Ground
07. One Mind Gone Separate Ways



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