Kevin Hein - Gauze II
Tucked between the J-card and clear plastic case of my copy of Kevin Hein's Gauze II was a small slip of paper, about the width of two fingers, professing his massive love for 80's dream-pop purveyors the Cocteau Twins. Having named Half-Gifts after one of their songs, I was excited to add this tape to my school morning rotation. The Twins' influence was evident even in giving the cassette's packaging a quick once-over. The cover art's abstract wisps resembled those adorning the sleeves of Heaven or Las Vegas and Victorialand, and barely pronounceable song titles like "Maelstrom Pale Malachite" were definitely Twins-ian. As one might expect, so was the music; though there was no vocalist to match Elizabeth Fraser's signature glossolalia, the lengthy guitarscapes were very remniscent of Robin Guthrie's, laced with citrus-y chorus and a soggy dose of reverb, the airy drones floated like a raft in choppy water, unaltered, but tossed around by undulating waves. Below this, on a couple of tracks, drum machine loops dove deep into the abyss of sludgy residual sound. Hazy and beautifully monolithic, these drones have a hypnotizing quality. As I've said of many ambient albums I enjoy, Gauze II makes good background music to stare out of car windows in the dark to. And at nearly twenty minutes of material, it's the perfect length to last me from the driveway to the school parking lot.