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Systems/Layers

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 7, 2003
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Editorial Reviews

This Louisville-based avant-garde chamber group presents their first full-length in three years. Home recording, field recordings, and several large ensemble sessions with members of the Louisville Orchestra make up this release, which originally began when the group took to the streets of NYC armed with a DAT recorder in search of interesting sounds.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 7, 2003)
  • Original Release Date: 2003
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Quarter Stick
  • ASIN: B0000D1FED
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #176,311 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By somethingexcellent VINE VOICE on November 28, 2005
Format: Audio CD
For a long time, I think that people dismissed Rachel's as a group of indie kids who thought that they could get together and play classical music. After a string of amazing albums, the group shrugged off most of the criticism aimed their way by creating memorable music that mixed an indie-rock sensibility with chamber music and even a bit of extreme experimentation. After their last release, Selenography, I figured that the group had pretty much disappeared (despite various installations here and there over the years), but they're back with Systems/Layers and it's their most realized work yet.

As it turns out, the group has been working steadily for the last two years, and the material on this album is the result of that. Through collaboration with the SITI Company for a theater piece of the same name, the group improvised and discussed various pieces, arriving at this 19 track, 62-minute effort. Another unique element of this release is that the group makes use of a lot of field recordings. Perhaps because of the long recording process or the different ideas by different contributors, it feels almost like a musical travelogue of sorts, documenting different places with different music and themes.

"Moscow Is In The Telephone" opens the disc with shimmering organ and melancholy strings that gives way to only a solitaire violin playing out over crowd noise. The end of the piece swells slightly, but the whole thing just sort of wanders through quiet sidestreets before coming to an end. "Water From The Same Source" takes a much more structured route, and it's easily one of the best tracks on the release and perhaps one of the best the group has ever done.
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Format: Audio CD
I was a little bit worried that I wouldn't like this album so I put off buying it for a long time. Now that I finally did, i cant stop listening to it! Rachel's never fail to amaze me and I'm always left totally floored. They are probably one of the most talented, innovative groups to date. Honestly, there is not another band like them! This album has some resemblence to The Sea And The Bells (incredible album), but it's still very different from the stuff they've done before. It's much more ambient. My favorite song is "Water From The Same Source"...it almost drives me to tears everytime I hear it. That's how beautiful it is.
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Format: Audio CD
but there is a PNC bank.
Rachel's have gone in many different directions at once on this album, but it still fits together. I don't want to attempt to describe much here, for fear that I wouldn't do the music justice... But I do find this album to be even better than Selenography and the Sea and the Bells, perhaps the best Rachel's yet (though I've always had a special place for Handwriting). This is definitely essential, though... don't trust that other guy. And Rachel's are the coolest band in the world, too... they deserve your money.
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Format: Audio CD
1. You must expect unexpected beauty in the music. There is a melody that soars above inaudible tones and sporadic audible words.

2. You must expect to be entranced by the composition.

3. You must check out their other works as well as Systems/Layers . . . I recommend "The Sea and The Bells" (based on Pablo Neruda's book of poetry with the same title).

I was interested in this album initially because of the collaboration between Rachel's and the SITI Company. I have been interested in Anne Bogart's work for a while now as well as the work of Rachel's. I can't think of two groups that compliment each other better. The music itself is lush and rich and I think would lend itself to a live performance situation. In fact, if I close my eyes and think about this music in relation to live performance, the music allows the listener to imagine a stage of actors moving through time and space. It has this quality where the listener gets the chance to create their own environment... meaning regardless of where the listener is in time and space the environment has the ability to morph to whatever the music is doing.

This album marks another interesting collaboration with Shannon Wright. She as a solo performer is amazing and full of this spirit and energy on stage and in her recordings that have that innate ability to touch a listener. "Last Things Last" was my introduction to this album and it continues to be one of my favorite tracks. It slowly builds into this lament of hope and to me is one of the best songs I have heard in 2004.

The beauty of Rachel's is that regardless of your musical tastes it has the ability to cross genre. They may be perceived as "classical" by the unaware eye . . . but they bring a fresh perspective that reverses the stoic stance of classical music and makes it something that is part of our existence in our day-to-day experiences.
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By A Customer on October 7, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Somewhere between chamber pop, modern classical, and experimentalism lies the distinctive sound of Rachel's. Like the loosely structured breakdown of This Mortal Coil's 1984 debut, It'll End in Tears, Rachel's Systems/Layers swans through the inclinations of a somber mood, each of its 19 tracks expressing tender vagaries of the soul. Produced by the band and Bob Weston, the album incorporates a full chamber orchestra along with film loops and well-placed vocal contributions ("Last Things Last" features lyrics sung by Shannon Wright), keeping in the tradition of past Rachel's works that integrated writers, choreographers, and visual artists along with a changing lineup of auxiliary musicians. For Systems/Layers, Rachel's asked friends and fans to record sounds from their environment or everyday lives that represent personal meaning, and these submitted snippets figure richly in the elegance of the multilayered compositions. - The Stranger, Seattle WA
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