Various Artists: AUX Vol. 2  

ICE

AUX Vol. 2 begins with a hiccupping Tim Hecker-esque track from Elf Power bassist Derek Almstead. "Bamboo Beach Ball" is the aural equivalent of disappearing ink: As soon as it makes itself known, it inflexibly vanishes. The musical tug-and-pull colors this Athens-centric comp. Curator Heather McIntosh has assembled a set of tunes from some preeminent experimental musicians. But like most experimental scene compilations, AUX Vol. 2 habitually collapses under its own weight. Much of it is reflexive studio wankery. "North Term Reality," the Olivia Tremor Control's first officially released song in years, begins promisingly as a Moondoggish traipse, but descends into incoherency around the two-minute mark, ending with four minutes of warbling go-nowhere electronics. Thankfully, there are bright moments. Jessica Pavone and Mary Halvorson's "Hartford" is a stark, pretty guitar/violin duet that evokes the Books. Mohtzégorf's "Two Hammers and a Tone" is pure, terrifying beauty. At least the standouts truly stand out; the rest, though, disappears like so much ink. (2 out of 5 stars)

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