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***STERN was founded in 2008 as an outlet for composer/vocalist CHUCK STERN, former frontman of TIME OF ORCHIDS, a band with releases on Cuneiform Records and John Zorn's Tzadik label. After three albums, the project grew into its current incarnation, a full band consisting of Chuck Stern and three current and former members of KAYO DOT: TOBY DRIVER, KEITH ABRAMS and TIM BYRNES. Missive: Sister Ships is the sixth Stern release in all, and the third to be made by the current lineup. Self-described as "icy pop gems for aching hearts and doom freaks," the Stern sound is haunting and slippery. With a palette of slow tempos and minimal instrumentation, the band constructs a highly unpredictable reality where serenity can flip into nausea in the space of one note. Restraint and dissonance are used as weapons in these austere, strangely meditative songs, but the half-charred remains of familiar pop structures and melodies are ever-present in the periphery. Features artwork by iAN ANDERSON of The Designer's Republic, known for their artwork for Pulp, Aphex Twin and Autechre. "The quartet twists meticulously, almost seductively, through pop-rock songs refracted at disorienting angles. Stern himself is a provocative lyricist and an oddly endearing singer... His voice, like Scott Walker's, can quickly curve from a croon to a caterwaul... Like the best of Kayo Dot and Time of Orchids, it revels in the unexpected.”—Pitchfork