Stars of the Lid Avec Laudenum

"If we can't pass out to the piece, then it never makes it on the record." That's how Stars of the Lid knows a track is done, according to the witty Adam Wiltzie, one-half of the elite, emotionally penetrating, atmospheric ambient sound duo that is Stars of the Lid (along with Brian McBride). Avec Laudenum, previously an exclusive vinyl-only release in Europe, is finally given license to wash over North American skies in all of its enveloping glory thanks to Kranky records. The duo collaborates by sending each other contributions through the mail between the U.S. and Belgium (where Wiltzie recently relocated from Texas), and although each album sounds similar in approach, with its Stephen Hawking, Black Hole-esque sweeping, lulling, swelling and stretched out keyboards, guitars and samplers, their sound is a unique and omnipotent listening experience. "There might be a few musical referential and inspirational influences, like Preisner and Morricone," states Wiltzie, "but most influences come from living in Bruxelles, staring at Baroque architecture and symbolist sculpture cut-outs of beautiful women and their dogs. Thank god I studied art history; it saved me from the inevitable madness of this predictable world of music that I am partly to blame for." In fact, their music really defies description. And just as their music continually evolves and seamlessly ebbs and flows from album to album, so do their live performances, where new material is played, tested and calculated. "We are deathly afraid of improvisation; we usually incorporate a bastardised version of an album track. The rest is usually new pieces, which is about as much as we perpetuate being allegoric." (Kranky)