Somewhere sometime not so long ago the notion of contrast was set aside in favor of gapless, strictly homogenous and opaque masses of sound, standing or collapsing on interior detail and an absolute devotion to formlessness. Is this a reaction against capital "M" music? Is it a failure of imagination? Infatuation with sound? Whatever drives this aesthetic, the quality of the results -- surprise! -- are often mixed. re: sees and hears beyond this. They prove to be an exception to an angry yet often impotent wall of sound. The music of their second CD, "Alms", rediscovers the efficacy of contrast and deploys it with overwhleming force. Derived from field recordings and an extensive line-up of instruments, processing, cutting and pasting, "Alms" displays the kind of anguish that can only come from periods of great cultural and social displacement. That the liner notes tell us the music was "Assembled in the homeland during the war on terror, 2001-2004" is more than enough to let us know things will not be going swimmingly. Yet giving voice -- instrumental voice -- to the daily disgust we experience as witnesses of unapologetic, bottomless corporate and governmental blindness, cruelty, hypocrisy and greed requires a high degree of articulation to be effective or affecting. The music here is both. While the context may or may not be metaphorical, the sound is often taken, twisted and reshaped into new and monstrously contorted forms. This level of manipulation may also be at work in the service of metaphor. Or maybe it's that "Alms" is telling us that nothing can remain as it is, any longer. This is music, finding itself next to a distant piano phrase or the softness of some unidentifiable whisper, that takes on monumental significance by responding to the horrors delivered fresh to our doors each morning.