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Blind Divine: Breathing Spell (Mysticus)

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On its new album, Blind Divine honors a dreamy dark-ambient tradition, and adds generous helpings of hazy shoegaze, but if you listen more closely, you'll hear the Tucson-based band exploring something more substantial.

Against soundscapes not unlike those created by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois for U2's The Unforgettable Fire, guitarists Daniel Martin Diaz and Damian Demetrius Diaz weave vines of leads and rhythm, employing various effects to create fascinating textures and strategically add smears of distortion. The result approximates the layering of abstract elements over a realistic painting. Assertive, robust bass lines and booming tribal/post-punk drums recall the better alternative styles of the 1980s, and a cover of The Cure's "The Figurehead" drives the point home.

Vocalist and lyricist Paula Catherine Valencia has one of those voices in which lyrics seem to start out as wordless breaths but are transformed into solid words when they reach the listener's conscious brain. Her lyrics seem to subscribe to a nondenominational spirituality based on sacred suffering, sacrifice and flares of sublime joy, frequently in the name of love.

Haunting instrumentals emphasize Blind Divine's hypnotic, almost cinematic approach, which makes sense, considering that the band's music has been used in three feature films and many TV shows. Listening to Breathing Spell, one can imagine wandering through a crumbling Victorian mansion, the walls of which whisper subtle secrets.

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