Everybody wants to hear another "SLIM WESTERNS" from A Small Good Thing. Actually, this is the closest the group comes to revisiting the same eerie, heat-soaked, atmospheric, surreal desert panoramas and vignettes of that seminal debut release - but it is quite its own territory. With a few tentative moves into the direction they took on their most electronic album "BLOC", and some idiosyncratic dialog/ whispered vocals in a couple of pieces, it feels less fully developed and not quite as inspired as the 1st "Slim Westerns". Most significantly, it relies less on the sweeping, floating slide guitar and overall more on the atmospheric electronics (though a couple pieces here are actually much more conventionally song-structured than any on the original "SLIM WESTERNS").
While I've yet to discover anything overtly saying so, this all feels like outtake and wider material that was cut from the original, to make SLIM WESTERNS more focused, compelling and tight-knit. These "Volume II" pieces have a lot to offer as a wider ranging painting of the SLIM WESTERNS saga and its imaginary outlaw Gerry Melody. Some tracks are right in the pocket vis-a-vis "Volume I"; just don't expect a second helping here of the same grandeur and depth of the original.
Given that, it is still an excellent album in its own right. BLOC might have appealed to many for its beats / electronica leanings; indeed I am a huge collector of top ambient material, so hoped for superb atmospheres, textures and innovative treatments there. Unfortunately that CD turns out to be their most pedestrian, due to too many nods to trend and convention.
SLIM WESTERNS II actually fulfills better in that regard; at no time do beats get in the way of the weather. ASGT have never yet repeated the same overall feel in any CD; yet the sense of noir cinematic decay and solitude, along with Hulme's always brilliant, often quite subtle, ethereal soundscapes and Fazzini's and Sedgewick's tasty, bent guitar lines rarely fail to build very intriguing, highly original realms of haunted beauty.
Foir those looking for ASGT's next best album after the original "SLIM WESTERNS", seek out their hard-to-find but very rewarding "PINK AND PURPLE WORLD (Of Dishonesty)". The area they visit their is NOT sun-baked, Southwest high desert; instead it is 3am, 1940's/50's seedy, big city desolation and dissolution. Pick up a Raymond Chandler novel and play the "PINK AND PURPLE WORLD" as you read. You will instantly know what that CD is all about. No crying over "this isn't another Slim Westerns" necessary. Get over it. There simply isn't "another" Slim Westerns -even though this "SLIM WESTERNS II" is their offering to all who clamor to revisit that fascinating world.