LacunaHere’s a review from this week’s Seven Days:

(Ice­box Records, 3-inch CD)

Burlington’s Ice­box Records con­tin­ues its monthly 3-inch CD series with another dreamy, beau­ti­ful col­lec­tion of under­stated art-pop. At the plate this time is label co-founder Eric Olsen, mas­querad­ing as E_O, who uses his 20 min­utes to craft a solid, albeit bleak, string of tunes.

Shift­ing away from the extended drones and ethe­real feed­back exer­cises of the first 3-inch, School Bus’ Pain­less, Olsen focuses on his quiet, poetic songs. Yet, instead of sim­ply plop­ping down a few mopey pop tunes, he uses recur­ring themes and finely crafted instru­men­tal pas­sages to weave the pieces into a glo­ri­ous, uni­fied whole.

“31” gets things going with plucked acoustic gui­tars, lazy keys and a soft mechan­i­cal drum beat. Olsen’s warm vocals lull the lis­tener into the tune, reveal­ing the lay­ers of finely crafted instrumentation.

After two min­utes, the song dis­solves into the humid elec­tric gui­tars and light-handed drum­ming of “Fill­ing the Space.” “You stay up with the T.V.,” Olsen sings, “You hear me in the drive/You cal­cu­late the time I wait out­side.” Recit­ing the lines, Olsen’s plain­tive vocals are filled with a des­per­ate melancholy.

“Come in Three” is a 4-minute instru­men­tal pas­sage built upon a sim­ple elec­tric gui­tar lick and repet­i­tive bass line. Into the mix fly a mass of sam­pled con­ver­sa­tions and found sounds, cre­at­ing a deep, headphone-ready interlude.

The cen­ter­piece of the album is the 5-and-a-half-minute “Lud­low.” A haunt­ing drug anthem, it is the album’s strongest point, an immensely pow­er­ful piece of pop.

“I fol­lowed you into the bed­room with a ceil­ing of stars,” Olsen sings ten­derly over sus­tained organ chords. “You traced a line along my arm/Cartography of arteries/A sub­way map that no one reads.” As the tune rises, hum­ming cello notes enter, echo­ing the grow­ing emo­tion of Olsen’s tale. “I didn’t come this far, just to see her face on the bowl of my spoon,” he dryly recites. “It’s hard to con her face, when I see it on every mark under the moon.”

Like any 3-inch, the disc is unset­tlingly brief, but the sim­ple power of Olsen’s songs is noth­ing short of stun­ning. Lacuna is a record that should not be missed, and is another leap for­ward for Ice­box Records.