Kscope – 29th April 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Se Delan, a duo consisting of multi-instrumentalist Justin Greaves and Swedish singer Belinda Kordic, have gone for a more natural and human sound on their second album, Drifter, after the stark soundscapes of 2014;’s The Fall. They may consider it to be more raw, but given that their style of music of a dark, new-wave-inspired nature, it’s necessarily controlled, stark and detached.

According to the press release, their collaboration is built on their shared influences of ‘music, film and life.’ I’m in no position to comment on the lives they’ve led or how those life experiences have shaped ‘Drifter’, an album preoccupied with madness, and in particular how the line between sanity and insanity can at times appear frighteningly thin.

The concept may be something of a cliché, but it’s eminently relatable. Mental health is a big topic right now, and it’s a shame that policy and society is so far behind what so many of us already knew: life is challenging, confusing, and in a world gone mad, it’s hard to even know where you are on the sanity scale from one day to the next. The duo articulate this beautifully on Drifter.

The album presents a very personal exploration of the theme, but in the personal lies the universal, and the album benefits from being based around some excellent tunes. Kordic’s vocals are breathy and warm despite the reverb that enshrouds them. Shifting between a tremulous Kate Bush to Toni Halliday via Gitane Demone, she covers haunting, tormented, sultry and more.

Fractal, gothy guitars swathed in chorus and metallic-edged flange chime as they crawl, spindly and tense around throbbing bass tones on the album’s opener ‘Going Home’, and a thick, flanged bass rumble drives ‘Ruined by Them’. Dreamy, seductive and very much cast in shadow, the title track is a song of desolate introspection on which Kordic questions her own very identity. The stark atmosphere is accentuated by a claustrophobic production reminiscent of The Cure’s Faith album.

‘Blue Bird’ finds Kordinc coming on like a cross between Siouxsie and Kate Bush over a hypnotic guitar line that cascades over a rolling bass, while ‘All I Am’ again hits a dense Curesque atmosphere. The seductive ‘Blueprint’ spirals out on fractal guitars, contrasting with the driving ‘In Obscura’ (do I hear hints of ‘Dominion’ in there? Hints of Disintegration?), while the spiky ‘Gently Bow Out’ is far from gentle, bearing serrated edges worthy of Savages.

Album closer ‘No Fear of Ghosts’ is a classic slow-builder which begins low, slow and haunting and ultimately explodes into a crescendo of dark tension, with a tripwire guitar line dominating the swirling tide of sound.

Am I going to throw in comparisons to acts like Ghost Dance, Rose of Avalanche and Sunshot too? Yes. While Drifter is dark and often bleak, it has a hooky accessibility that places Se Delan toward the poppier side of the goth spectrum. Owing far more to 80s post-punk than 90s shoegaze, Drifter showcases a band whose sound is not nearly as claustrophobic as the Sisters of Mercy in their early days, nor as spiky as Siouxsie or Skeletal Family, but who nevertheless capture the sound of 1984. It’s also magnificently executed, and most definitely recommend it.

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Se Delan Online at KScope

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Comments
  1. […] a whole, it’s a dark, almost apocalyptic sweep of sound. Sitting alongside the recent releases by Se Delan and Madame Mayflower, 2016 is starting to look like the year goth is reborn. Forget darkwave and […]

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