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Outside of his work with forward thinking bands like Om, Grails, and Lilacs & Champagne, multi-instrumentalist Emil Amos is probably best known for his Holy Sons project. Dating back to the early '90s and with nearly a dozen albums released under the name since the early '00s, Holy Sons' prolific output has seen Amos experimenting with everything from psychedelia and jazz to avant-garde, electronic, and rock. Various strands of the '70s have always been a touchstone for Amos, which was evident on last year's excellent The Fact Facer--one of two albums released on the Thrill Jockey label. Its influence is more apparent on Fall of Man, particularly on blues-prog numbers like 'I Told You' and the achingly gorgeous 'Trampled Down', where Amos' slightly weary voice is accompanied by a sparse backing of understated drumming and a Wurlitzer organ, while the sparse and haunted psych-tinged folk of 'Discipline' is easily one of the more fragile moments here.

The mood is melancholic given the pessimistic nature of its themes and the pacing resembles a kind of narcotic haze but not to the point of feeling sluggish. Amos has said that the mission of his music is "facing your personal reality" but here, he's looking outward and touching on a broader topic: humanity. Fall of Man is a reference not only to the myth of how humans are powerless and fundamentally flawed, but also how we are slowly but steadily sowing the seeds of our own destruction. With the recent attacks in Paris, ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, and the growing racial tension here in the US, it's difficult not to tie its themes in with current global events. Fall of Man was written not with any specific set of events in mind, but rather with its focus on the condition of humanity as a whole. Gloominess aside, like its predecessor, it also possesses a great deal of beauty which is evident in comparatively light-hearted moments like 'Being Possessed Is Easy' or the title track.

Amos has always been a lo-fi enthusiast, but starting with The Fact Facer, he began delving into a fuller lush sound, something that continues on Fall of Man as he embellishes his music with more hooks and pop balladry and a kind of lush warmth that helps make his otherwise brooding songs feel more accessible, but without sacrificing any of his characteristic raw intimacy and psychological depth. As with his previous recordings, he played all of the instruments himself except on 'Aged Wine' where he's joined by his touring band for what unsurprisingly turns out to be the most rollicking songs here. For someone whose output has been consistently experimental, and at times, unpredictable, Fall of Man is the second release in a row to find Amos honing a specific but diverse sound, and rather than coming off as complacent, his consistency has bolstered his songwriting and playing, giving both greater depth and range, and in turn making this possibly one of his most haunting and beautiful offerings from him yet.

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