Function The Secret Miracle Fountain

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Form seems to trump function on The Secret Miracle Fountain, as Matthew Liam Nicholson and company build 16 pretty-but-flawed, statuesque songs that reach skyward with solemnity. Yes, the sonic architecture of Nicholson's second Function venture is inventive and inspiring-it took three years and three dozen musicians to create-but these grim monuments collapse under their own humorlessness and austerity way before they run their proper course. Hushed, synth-bandaged electronics burble and glisten, washes of noise tumble over themselves and vanish into thin air, but ultimately the staid sonics prove imposing and dour.