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Record Review

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In indie-rock circles, a certain amount of pretension is expected -- almost required. But with its fourth album, The Golden Vessyl of Sound, Portland, Ore., space-rock quartet Yume Bitsu sets a new standard for pretentiousness. But they also set a compelling new standard for their music.

In a written disclosure on the CD's back cover, Yume Bitsu explains that titling its improvised songs felt "wrong and contrived." They'd prefer that the music "stand nude as sonic experiences without and beyond the boundaries of the written word."

At first, it's a concept that smacks of self-importance. But with songs as sonically embellished as those on the band's fourth album, it also could be construed as naked ambition. Following in the footsteps of Japan's Acid Mothers Temple, Yume Bitsu draws breeze from some deep cosmic reservoir that meanders blissfully through its gently drifting strum und drang. When you consider that, even the spelling of "Vessyl" is forgivable.

Living up to the English translation of its name, "Dream Beats," Yume Bitsu's latest -- a sort of concept album about the coming of "Moth-Messengers" -- showcases more compellingly than ever before the group's ability to weave bass throbs, ambient synth washes and the occasional hazy vocal harmonies through a sprawling soundscape of lulling drones. The band soaks its freeforms in hypnotic rains of fuzz and percussion in the tradition of Spiritualized, Slowdive, Stars of the Lid and Can. What begins as pretension ends as highly dynamic tension -- that is, if you're willing to wrestle the Vessyl.

Yume Bitsu plays Eyedrum Sun., May 12.

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