May 1, 2003

Test Spin: Molasses

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Molasses, like many other bands in the Montreal music scene, exudes a world-weary vibe perfectly suited to our times. Theirs is the music of industrial collapse, stripped-down folk with dark lyrics and abrasive sound sculptures. Singer and guitarist Scott Chernoff provides the group’s vision with his poetic and deeply personal lyrics, which form a reaction to a world filled with sadness and injustice. His songs are dense and deep: tightly constructed spaces for the listener to crawl into and become lost.

On the band’s third release, Chernoff is once again backed by a cadre of musicians from other Montreal groups (including Godspeed You! Black Emperor). The music on this double album is much more full and fleshed out than in the past, with distorted electric guitars, scratchy violins, singing saw, and piano joining Chernoff’s acoustic guitar and raw vocals. This sprawling album is intense and introspective, its music reaching straight for the soul. “Insomnia” barely hides its seething anger beneath a surprisingly melodic exterior, while the emotion bursts out more directly as a wailing guitar solo on “Whitey Blues,” or as an explosive coda of discordant horns on “Death March (Erksine’s Theme).” And the band are just as capable of spinning lovely webs of sound, as they do with the delicate male/female vocals of “La Berceuse d’