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Song For The Greater Jihad

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Blue Water White Death: Grace And Mystery

Blue Water White Death: Grace And Mystery

Song For The Greater Jihad

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Blue Water White Death's "Song for the Greater Jihad" captures the soaring majesty of Jonathan Meiburg's work with Shearwater. i

Blue Water White Death's "Song for the Greater Jihad" captures the soaring majesty of Jonathan Meiburg's work with Shearwater. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist
Blue Water White Death's "Song for the Greater Jihad" captures the soaring majesty of Jonathan Meiburg's work with Shearwater.

Blue Water White Death's "Song for the Greater Jihad" captures the soaring majesty of Jonathan Meiburg's work with Shearwater.

Courtesy of the artist

Friday's Pick

Song: "Song for the Greater Jihad"

Artist: Blue Water White Death

CD: Blue Water White Death

Genre: Rock

Saturday night in Austin, Texas, the majestic art-rock band Shearwater is set to perform the complete album trilogy it calls "The Island Arc" — 2006's Palo Santo, 2008's Rook and 2010's The Golden Archipelago — in its entirety, in order, as a means of closing a remarkably fruitful chapter in the band's career. Thankfully, Shearwater isn't breaking up, but singer Jonathan Meiburg has braced himself for a new direction by taking a few compelling and unpredictable sonic detours in recent months, whether he's covering Randy Newman while wrapped in holiday lights for The A.V. Club or recording a left-field side project with divisive art-rock provocateur Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu.

The latter project, an alternately polarizing and powerful full-length record credited to Blue Water White Death, finds a way to blend each singer's strengths, fusing Meiburg's gift for soaring grace with Stewart's fearless emotionalism without feeling clumsy or incongruous in the process. Over the course of nearly six and a half deliberately paced minutes, "Song for the Greater Jihad" allows for stretches of virtual white space and a spot of wrenching noise about halfway through, but Meiburg's powerful vocal — at times reduced to a falsetto whisper, at others shouted past the rafters — throbs at the song's core.

For those who can't celebrate the completion of Shearwater's "Island Arc" journey in its hometown this weekend, it's not a bad substitute to follow Meiburg down this suitably mysterious, at times inscrutable side road. If nothing else, it's an effective placeholder as he prepares for what's next: Shearwater begins work on a new chapter later this year.

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