Record Review 

If a restless night were to be artfully captured, the Swords Project's Entertainment Is Over If You Want It would be its musical equivalent. With scratchy beats dictating the spiking of EKGs, and a violin underscoring the fits and starts of fretful tossing and turning, the Swords Project's first full-length follows in the tense-and-release pattern of searing somnambulists such as Mogwai, plus a dab of Dirty Three without the hellfire-licked frenzy.

What sets the Portland, Ore., seven-musician ensemble apart, however, is the pop among all the prog trappings. None of the above- mentioned bands would be so likely to indulge in taut vocals that evoke R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, but the dynamics of desperation in "Immagracion" and "New Shapes" do just that.

Jagged juxtaposed with smooth, that's Swords Projects' game. Tracks such as "City Life" and the album's 10-minute wanderer, "Audience of One," further experiment with the contrast between submerged cosmos and soaring crescendo; the difference is that Entertainment expands on the vocals, amidst the precision-engineered pings and pecks of the blips, beeps and assorted other electrocoustic embellishments. After a slow build, Entertainment takes on an open-room ambience, and its piles of translucent layers billow into a shifting miasma of textured tone. Using sounds to create pillars and pillows, the Swords Project's Entertainment dreams up a flight of fitful fancies you won't want to sleep through.


The Swords Project play the Earl Thurs., July 24.

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