The increasing intersection of rock communities and more esoteric improv circles has resulted in some remarkable records in the past few years. Unfortunately, it's also seen the release of a whole lot of self-indulgent crap that sounds like a traditional rock trio dropping its instruments down the stairs and then recording the ensuing cacophony. Storm & Stress seems at first the product of such academic exercises, but the band is more complicated than that. The new Under Thunder And Fluorescent Light comes across at first as yet another exercise demonstrating the wonders of sonic deconstruction, taking the cliché of the rock trio and dissecting it one note at a time. Sadly, this is itself yet another cliché, and as drummer Kevin Shea, guitarist Ian Williams, and bassist Erich Emm set about creating the illusion of spontaneity, listeners may pine for the finer moments of early Gastr del Sol. But the band has tricks up its sleeve, no doubt encouraged by Gastr alumnus and producer Jim O'Rourke. The disc is repetitive yet impressively arrhythmic, pretentious yet playful, frustrating yet rewarding, inventive yet boring. Combine all these contradictions and perhaps the band will be done justice, but at the same time, listening to Under Thunder And Fluorescent Light is not unlike spending hours exhaustively researching the 20th-century avant-garde in a dimly lit and stale-smelling library.

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