Working in that area where rock music and drone collide, although drone does seem to have the edge here, Shalloboi have produced the sound of a slow descent into confusion on their album "Petals". Using only guitar, bass, percussion, voice, cello and the occasional piano loop, the band have produced a startling array of sounds that engulf the listener like sudden fog, the thickly layered sound so dense [in] places that it becomes impenetrable noise. This is a good thing, creating a cohesive mood that means the album is more than a collection of soundscapes, and gives dynamic tension to the sudden break in the clouds, that appear from time to time. Definitely a labour of love, this is an album that defies time, working its magic at its own pace.- simon lewis

"Petals" is the second full-length from this nomadic trio from Chicago (via Kansas City and Portland - and not to be confused with Montreal's Shalabi Effect), who once again dive into the waters of ambient, atmospheric, mostly instrumental rock with mostly satisfying results. Three-and-a-half years in the making, they again sound like someone invited Sigur Ros to compose the soundtrack to "The Blair Witch Project" (not a problem here - if you've stumbled onto a successful style, stick with it). "Petals" is a collection of haunting, gothic, minimalist chanting and whispered vocals floating through landscapes of the mind on the back of treated electronic effects and eerie cello scrapings like fog across the Golden Gate Bridge. Tinkling wind chimes and Billy Speer's cello welcome us to "Christmas Song," as storm clouds drift across the peaceful landscape in the form of crescendoing guitars and echoed, ephemeral whispers appear like ghostly apparitions (somewhere between "Livonia"-era His Name Is Alive and the Cocteau Twins). Slowdive's influence is all over "Waterfalls Breaking Around Your Shoulders," with distant vocals from the "shallow boy" himself, Tyler Ritter and percussionist Stefanie Goodwin trading spaces with Ritter's glistening guitar lines and vibrattoed electronics, which could be him e-bowing his guitar. Try segueing this out of "Just For A Day"'s "Spanish Air" to see what I mean. Goodwin's repetitive incantation, "I can't take it" is among the creepiest moments of music I've heard all year.

The title track trickles along slower than molasses - like an old 45 slowed down to 16rpm - as Ritter & Goodwin return to their ghostly, echoed vocals that serve more to supplement the track's haunting atmosphere than to relate a story. These heavily treated disembodied vocals are rather unintelligible - like trying to make out a medium's channeling of an otherworldly spirit during a seance (and believe you me, this is the perfect soundtrack for a seance!), but as wordless vocals go, they're pretty damn frightening. A lonely piano introduces "Neversong," but the virtually unrecognizable vocals once again leave the story hovering somewhere in the air just out of reach of your brain's deconstructive ability.

I like the dark, ominous atmosphere the band creates, I just wish Ritter would clean up the vocals a little [bit] so we can tell what they're on about. Songs like "Fully Bloomed"'s creepy horrowshow ambience and wordless vocals suggest the trio could also do wonders on the soundtrack circuit, so somebody needs to put together some images for these folks to score... like immediately! The slow cello strains that open "Made of Glass" sound like a dirgy, funeral procession and drag another haunting piece across your earlobes that wouldn't be out of place on a Godspeed! You Black Emperor album. Ritter's meandering, cold, antiseptic echoing guitar lines venture effortlessly into vintage Cure territory, ca. their vintage "Suicide Trilogy" period of "Seventeen Seconds," "Faith" and "Pornography," with particular reference points to their soundtrack work on "Carnage Visors." [I should point out that it's no coincidence that the first three bands listed on the group's Links page on their website are The Cure, Cocteau Twins and Sigur Ros, so I'm not tossing these reference points around lightly.]

Dark, forlorn, at times downright spooky, this will appeal heavily to fans of the aforementioned acts, but if you have anything in your collection by Slowdive or dark ambient stalkers like Lycia, Coil, Rachel's and Threnody Ensemble, you need to pick this up right away. The band are selling it directly through their website at the link up above. Itís one of my favorite releases of the year and I guarantee you won't be disappointed if you give them a try. They even have some tracks from earlier releases available to download and you can hear some of their forthcoming work on their MySpace site. 9/10 -- Jeff Penczak (11 December, 2006)

vanity project

The cello bows mournfully and enigmatically beneath a twinkle; a windchime in a stiff breeze, vocals that billow slowly like breath condensing on February air, as well as guitars that distort and drone. This is their 'Christmas Song'. Merry it is not, but mesmeric it is. And that goes for pretty much of this LP. Their drones flicker and the vocals appear as beacons in a thick mist. 'Just like you used to be' features a tapping-on-glass percussion reminiscent of Waits, and the piece does have an unsettling 'What's He Building In There' quality. Bleak, startling, lost but defiant and certainly enveloping. Skif.

komakino fanzine

24-Jan-2007 3:35 PM - Shalloboi - Petals (9tx cd, 71'58" - Endless December rec 'o6) - New full-lenght release for kansas city Shalloboi trio [read past komareviews: Invisible Against The Sun, and Blue Eyed], a new chapter collecting 3 years and half of works, - an ocean of drones and atmospheric holy post-shoegaze prayers, at limit of lo-fi means. Tyler Ritter and Stefanie Goodwin's celestial hymns to loneliness one more time merge into lines of guitars echoing in flames, solemn cello, tragic piano, minimal programming/drumming: - listen to Neversong as well Just Like You Used To Be, and it's up to You to mark the difference between depressing and what's inspiring. Listening to this album is like having a vision of Yourself floating over blurred landscapes contempl[at]ing over the ground the shadow of Your flight in just a short moment before You wake up.. It's porno for multi layered drones-addicts, it's a constant saturation processing that involves sounds before music, - just like the 14 minutes Wish, a long slide into nocturnal sleep. - The album is available for 8$ postpaid, - so, get in touch. [mp3 clips @ cdbaby]- paolo miceli