Dead Saints Chronicles is defined by those rhythms: hypnotic 11- or 15-beat loops played on elegant live-sounding drums, confounding to 4/4-attuned ears but also graceful and natural-feeling. On the opener, "Near Life," rhythms are deployed playfully, while its staccato synths hint at digidub and its organ licks give a whiff of the blues. The rest of the EP is harder to pin down, its sounds oblique and its moods ambiguous, even by Friedman's stony-faced standards. "Acroagnosis" is a teasing dust cloud of pitter-patter drums, delicate synth and wafting pads. The head-nodding "Languish" stumbles between different swing settings, while shimmering Wurlitzer chords whisper jazz fusion. "Grace"'s guitar swoons suggest an affinity with the uncanny vistas of '90s post-rock.
The intensity jumps with "Wentletrap," whose straighter triplet groove seems headed for a climax (the title, the name of a sea snail with an extraordinary twisting shell, means "spiral staircase" in Dutch). But after a couple of minutes the track dissolves back into the gloom, and Friedman plays us out with "Repentance," a mirage of gongs and other percussion caught between this world and the next.