Post-punk stirrings: Bellini and Sleeper peel back the mask

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BELLINI
The Precious Prize of Gravity
(Temporary Residence)

SLEEPER
Behind Every Mask
(Mush)

The return of David Yow and Jesus Lizard couldn't be better timed, judging from releases like Bellini's The Precious Prize of Gravity and Sleeper's Behind Every Mask: there's life in that post-punk corpse yet.

Working with old cohort Steve Albini, the Sicily-NYC-Texas-based Bellini growls like the dread ghost of Live Skull, with all the elastic power of Midwestern maulers like Jesus Lizard and Shellac. Vocalist Giovanna Cacciola croons and barks as if she's had one champagne cocktail too many -- in the bowels of hell.

Sleeper is more insinuating and less definable. These dusky ambient instrumentals seem to be fashioned with an ear toward both post-punk anxiety and brooding horror scores. Carlos Ransom puts his homemade instruments to good use, good enough to make me pick this up long after it's release earlier this year. Play "Witch Hunt" in the darkest corner of your Blair Witch basement tonight for All Hallow's.

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