Posts Tagged ‘Mellow’

Christopher Nosnibor

Steve Kendra has probably received as many words praising his work as anyone to have been covered here at Aural Aggravation, but the chances are, it’s gone unnoticed, since he’s rarely, if ever mentioned directly or by name. As the rhythm guitarist in York’s premier purveyors of psychedelic drone, Soma Crew, his contribution is something I’ve long admired. Like drummer Nick Clambake, Kendra’s brilliance lies in his humbleness, and his appreciation that the sum is always greater than the parts. A great rhythm section sticks to rhythm and keeps it together. Sounds simple, but it’s much harder in reality. It requires great concentration for a start. And it takes humility too not want to step into the spotlight in one way or another. But this is precisely why he’s the perfect player for Soma Crew, content to keep his head down, face obscured by the peak of his cap, and bludgeon away at two or three chords for six or seven minutes.

Just as he’s the quiet one of the band – not that they’re really big talkers most of the time – he’s quietly been working on his own material as Kendroid. It’s essentially a solo vehicle, but with input from as handful of people well known in York music circles, not least of all instrumental and production assistance from Dave Keegan, and to date he’s recorded and released two full-length albums, The Last Love Song on Earth (2019) and Poetry Love & Romance (2021) – so while these aren’t- hot-off-the-press new releases, it’s never too late to catch up. In fact, the whole promo build-up of a clutch of singles and videos in the run-up to an album’s release and then the explosion of reviews in the weeks and months around it, I get, but it does create a false sense of there being a certain window for new releases. The reality is that albums have a slow diffusion, and more often than not, people discover albums and artists months, years, even decades, after their emergence.

Kendra’s route to being a musician has been far from conventional: the man didn’t even pick up a guitar till he turned 40, and is by no means a muso. I have a lot of respect for that, and have found that oftentimes, technical education is a limiter to creativity. Steve can’t read tab and doesn’t know music theory – and consequently, isn’t hampered by conventions.

The chronology of the material is chewy: most of the songs on the second album were written before those on the first, and the second album is more of a lockdown exercise to document/ purge the journey that preceded The Last Love Song.

The Last Love Song on Earth presents a pretty eclectic set, spanning low-key blues and reminiscent of Mark Wynn before he went punky/shouty and went off to support Sleaford Mods (Married to the Rain’), to Soma Crew-esque space rock workouts that toss in dashes of Stereolab and Pulp (‘Mexican Heart’), and songs that incorporate elements of both, along with an experimental twist, with the swampy ‘Incel’ and brooding grind of ‘Deam Lover’ that has hints of Suicide in the mix contributing to the diversity that draws in The Doors to Mark Lanegan.

Poetry Love & Romance is quite a different animal, and while recorded in lockdown, it’s not – unusually – a lockdown album, packed with the anxieties of forced captivity or separation. But it is, in another way, a definitive lockdown album, in that its recording is one whereby the sound and production is determined by limitations, being largely acoustic – although Dave Keegan again features in a musical capacity, as well as engineering, mixing, and mastering.

We’re straight in with an easy country swing, with acoustic guitar and simple drum machine for the title track, and it sets the style for the album as a whole, which is mellow, sparse laid back, and pretty country. These are songs that paint pictures, sketches of scenes, some faded and tinged with the distance of time and reflection, and it’s quite touching at times.

Poetry Love & Romance does feel like something of a stopgap, but who wasn’t waiting for life to restart in some way the last couple odd years?

It’ll be interesting to see what Steve does next, but what he’s done thus far is interesting, and a clear step away from his guitaring day-job, and a such, it’s a bold move that’s yielded some great results.

Kranky – 15th April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Well, this is nice. No, it’s not sarcasm or some kind of snide semi-criticism wrapped in a vague compliment. Jacob Long’s third Earthen Sea outing for Kranky, Ghost Poems, was composed and created in New York during the first wave of lockdowns, and conjures a sense of calm , of tranquillity, and captures a sense of the hush that descended over life during this time. For many, there as an underlying rush of panic, of anxiety, as we struggled to comprehend what the hell was going on. The rolling news was little short of terrifying, and from my own vantage over the pond, New York looked like a dystopian movie. People weren’t only dying, but there were queues around the block just to get people into hospitals.

And yes, while all of this madness was going on, all other aspects of life were on hold. This was true of every town and city around the globe, but New York, the city that doesn’t sleep, was held still by a giant pause button. The very idea of New York without bumper-to-bumper traffic, packed sidewalks and parks rammed with joggers and dog walkers seems inconceivable. And yet, it happened.

Ghost Poems soundtracks empty streets, slow air currents and a general absence of everything – people, activity, life. As the title suggests, this is a collection of works which are haunted by the echoes of life, of activity, or movement, and listening it reminds me of my ventures outside in those early days and weeks of lockdown here in (old) York, England, a city usually populous withy workers and tourists, reduced to a ghost town. Social distancing was no issue on leaving the house: you could walk for half an hour is see maybe three other people. It was eerie. It was weird. It felt apocalyptic, like I was one of the last people on earth.

Slow, vaporous synths ebb and flow like a slow tide, dragging back and forth against a sparse, heartbeat pule of a beat on ‘Shiny Nowhere’, and it sets the sparse tone perfectly, and ‘Felt Absence’, with its slow backward-swelling remind into deletion encapsulates the mood perfectly. It’s not about what there is, but what there isn’t: that absence, that lack. It doesn’t feel right; even the air quality is different, and listening through an open window, there is birdsong, there is stillness… and so little else.

Elemental themes run through Ghost Poems: ‘Snowy Water’; ‘Rough Air’, and similarly, the sky is at the heart of the vistas which present themselves: ‘Ochre Sky’; ‘Deep Sky’; ‘Slate Horizon’. Looking out, and looking up, there was a strange stillness, an emptiness, above as below. Where did the time go? Two years have evaporated into this expanse of sky, and life has returned. Talk of ‘the great pause’ and ‘new normal’ have drifted away on the breeze. For all the fear of the pandemic, there was a certain optimism that something fresh and new may rise from the silence, from the space; perhaps a new green dawn, perhaps a kinder capitalism, a world without endless traffic, where the work/life balance may lean more towards life. All of these contemplations are spun into the soft, gentle airiness of Ghost Poems, an album suffused with calm, with a quiet optimism. This may have already been lost, buried in the clamour of the return, but Earthen Sea has captured that moment when there was a reserved sense of hope.

Listening to Ghost Poems compels one to sat back, and breathe in, slowly, deeply, to fully expand the lungs, and then exhale, again, slowly. Perhaps there is still hope after all.

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Southern Lord – 25th February 2022

For many, the days of the longest, hardest lockdowns are, it would seem, behind us. And yet the shadow of the pandemic continues to hang long as dark; it’s hard to move on and truly put it behind us when life continues to be anything but normal; signage and masks and booster reminders are the new normal, and we face a new normal carrying scars of a personal nature, each and every one of us. Successive lockdowns, periods of isolation, have all affected us in different ways, and we’ve all suffered some form of trauma or psychological damage in living through conditions we’re simply not equipped for.

For many creative types, working through the experience has manifested in new artistic output. There’s something about channelling that anxiety into something, even if not direct or specific in addressing the issue, that helps to somehow minimise, contain, or otherwise manage it. Thurston Moore’s latest project, like so many was born out of a lockdown environment, and it’s an exploratory work, in so many ways. A series of instrumental guitar pieces recorded during the summer of 2020, it’s a document of, as the liner notes outline, a period where, ‘as the world confronted the pandemic shutdown and as the people of good conscious stood up against the oppression of racist police oppression and murder.’ It goes on to ask, ‘How much screen time does a parent allow a child? How much screen time does a child need to realise a world which has the means to coexist as a community in shared exchange?’

This feels like numerous issues, simultaneous but separate, have collided to inspire this album, and raises as many questions as answers. Moore is clearly placing his flag alongside Black Lives Matter, and it struck me – and surely many others – that the protests should have taken place when the world, pretty much, was in lockdown. How could this be? This was a moment in time when protest felt impossible. In fact, anything felt impossible. But the murder of George Floyd was a trigger and it marked a tipping point of something far, far bigger for so many. This was about centuries of oppression and division. The scenes aired over the news channels, globally, were electrifying. But how does this relate to monitoring the screen time parents should grant their children? Surely it’s less about the amount of time, but parental control, and the extent to which parents grant their children exposure to current affairs? That said, it’s something I’ve wrestled with myself. As a child, I had no interest in anything on the news; my own daughter, aged 10, is genuinely interested and has her views on our prime minister, our government, and the pandemic, and more. While I feel a duty to protect her from scenes of violence and endless report of rape, murder, abduction, and brutal crimes against women and children, I also feel that a certain degree of exposure to ‘the real world’ is beneficial, just as I’ve come to see that many computer games encourage problem-solving and eye-hand co-ordination. Screen time isn’t all bad if you can get over the generational differences. But.. but… no doubt, it’s a conundrum.

Screen Time offers no answers. As is often the case with instrumental works, there is little to be gleaned from them in and of themselves, and the titles offer little by way of interpretive guidance. The only thing that really struck me about the titles, in fact, is that several share their with cure songs: ‘The Walk’; ‘The Dream’. ‘The Upstairs’ feels like an allusion to ‘The Upstairs Room’ (the title of the 12” EP version of ‘The Walk’; but then again, all of the compositions are ‘the’ something: ‘The View’, ‘The Neighbour’, and these reflect the shrunken worlds we inhabited during this time: four walls, the view from the window, and the TV as the window to the world. There was nothing else but to look, and to ponder. Screen Time is a work of ponderance. It doesn’t have to be coherent, because coherent thought isn’t the state of the world right now. Show me someone who has a firm handle on everything that’s going on and I’ll show you a bullshitter. No-one knows anything, and we’re all just fumbling, stumbling through.

Many of the pieces on Screen Time are short, fragmentary, and sparse, only half-formed, but evocative and atmospheric: ‘The Walk’, a minimal piece consisting of a heavily chorused and echoed guitar trickling a cyclical motif for a minute and fifty-one seconds is exemplary. Elsewhere, ‘The Upstairs’ is a haunting piece led by disorientating, discordant piano that tumbles along.

At times reminiscent of Earth, or more specifically Dylan Carlson’s more recent solo work, Screen Time borders on ambience in its slow, soft unfurlings. The final piece, the nine-minute ‘The Realization’ is almost hypnotic; slow, with deep, resonant notes that reverberate and hover while harmonics chime and soar.

As a listening experience, Screen Time is pleasant, absorbing. I like it. But what does it say? It speaks for Thurston Moore alone, just as any such release can only speak for its composers and performers. That’s ok. When stitched together, in time, all the voices will combine to present the full picture. For now, what simply matters is that each voice keeps adding to the tapestry of documenting the present, a time unlike any other.

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Kranky – 18th February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

The thirteenth Pan•American for album for Labradford’s Mark Nelson since 1998’s eponymous debut is a magnificently mellow affair. Written and recorded in isolation in the summer of 2020, it’s billed as ‘a suite of solo guitar instrumentals accented with lap steel, harmonica’, and it feels contemplative, and evokes in some sense the strangeness of the time.

In many respects, the summer of 2020 feels like a dream that happened a lifetime ago, and it’s sometimes hard to credit that it even happened. Lockdowns began around the globe around the middle of March 2020, and with them came an air of unreality. By the April of 2020, it’s recorded that around half the world’s population was under some form of lockdown restrictions. The world seemed to have literally stopped; everything was on pause. Admittedly, it was more paused for some than others. For many, lockdown meant being unable to work as all but the most essential services and provisions were shut down. It was a strange spell which demanded rapid adjustment; many had to adjust to reduced income and time on their hands, highlighting the eternal dichotomy of being time-rich or cash-rich – although under capitalism, those who generate the wealth rarely have the luxury of choice. And so to find days stretching out ahead of them without the daily grind, people found new things to do, new ways to be.

We didn’t all have the luxury of time: the balance tipped. The ability to home work and home school collided to create an explosion of stress and relentless activity while in a state of elevated pressure. All of this simply goes to show you can’t have it all, and you can’t win. I found myself struggling to reconcile numerous articles about ‘the great pause’ with my own experience of barely having time to piss while the whole family was living, working, and schooling under one roof for months on end.

But for all that, there were some good times, times outdoors, times spent on walks, flying kites, and throwing frisbees in fields, occasional moments of downtime reading a book with a cold beer in the back yard.

The Patience Fader feels like a soundtrack to these moments, and the tile feels like an encapsulation of that slow-creeping tension that said that however pleasant those moments of calm, they would be but brief, and all too often, thoughts would creep under the door to slowly gnaw at that tranquillity. The gnawing isn’t a part of the album’s listening experience, which is soothing, sedate.

Nelson’s guitar twang, bathed in reverb, hangs in space and suspends time as each note pauses and reflects on its direction, on what it means, on its purpose. You feel as if you’re watching the notes drift out into emptiness, street and paths bereft of people, roads bereft of traffic. ‘Harmony Conversation’ encapsulates the sedate mood, an almost lazy-sounding drifting leisurely and you can picture basking on a balcony looking down through a heat-haze at the stillness of it all on a hot summer’s day. It’s nice, and it makes you wish you were there.

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‘Kalahari’ is the opening track on All Becomes Desert, an album of improvised analogue soundscapes by London based musician and composer Ian Williams that evokes the hostile beauty of the most spectacularly empty places on earth. The velvety warm, undulating tones of his Roland Juno 106 provide a perfect setting for the meditative sonic backdrop of the piece.

In regard to its video, Williams explains that “it was originally planned to be shot with a nine strong crew during a two week safari to the hostile climes of the actual Kalahari desert, honest, but due to circumstances beyond our control – scuppered by the pandemic, would you believe it – we had to improvise a Plan B, sticking a sand art picture in front of an iPad, which, we’re pretty sure, will be convincing to the vast majority of viewers. And it still looks really cool, so who’s complaining?”

Listen here:

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Live music is back. People are rejoicing. Coming together and feeling the togetherness, the community, the connection has been so sorely missed by many, and for reasons far beyond the industry itself. It’s a way of life and an integral social agent. But it’s clear that coming out of lockdown and navigating the lifting of restrictions is not going to be a quick or easy process: whereas lockdown hit hard and fast, coming out – or, indeed, going out – feels like venturing into unknown territory. Anyone who talks of this being society ‘getting back to normal’ has either forgotten what normal was like before, or is simply trying to convince themselves that we’re anywhere near because it’s preferable to facing the reality. Is this the ‘new normal’ that was mooted back in the strong and summer of 2020?

It’s clear upon arrival that many of us are varying shades of apprehension and social and musical rustiness, and I will admit here a heightened anxiety over making my first journey by train in over a year, ahead of my first outing as a solo performer. Arriving at a familiar venue comes as a relief, but there are numerous elements of unfamiliarity: signs about the venue about the wearing of masks, the bar behind Perspex, and having to show proof of a negative test within the last 48 hours on arrival all combine to present a scene straight out of a movie or series set in a dystopian future – only, it’s not the future, it’s now, and this is real. Plenty find comfort and security ion these measures, but as the messaging has shifted from ‘beating’ the ‘invisible enemy’ to ‘living with covid’, then the question of this being the forever future is a difficult one, as it certainly feels as if something has been lost in the eighteen months since we last had ‘proper’ gigs.

Tonight’s event was also operating on a reduced capacity, but as it transpired, it was far from packed making social distancing no issue, and one suspects that while so many have lamented the absence of live music for so long, fear continues to keep them away.

The joy of EMOM night anywhere in the country is their sense of inclusivity, a broad church for outsiders from a vast array of genres, and the premise is straightforward – short slots, one act setting up while the one before plays, keeping the music going more or less continuously through the evening, and tonight’s brought the eclecticism in spades.

How to Use this Manual was up first. The style is gentle, textured instrumental with nice beats, by turns easy and sturdy, with a dash of funk in the mix. It’s easy on the ear, and deftly executed, and there really isn’t anything to fault here. These nights never fail to amaze with the sheer quality of music and clear talent of the performers.

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How to Use this Manual

There’s always one who has to be difficult, of course, someone who disrupts the flow and uses the tools and forces for dark ends. I think my set went well enough. It was short and harsh, as intended. My head was swimming, I couldn’t see the screen of my notebook clearly and I may have fluffed few lines of lyrics, but no-one died, not even me. I think there was even some applause at the end, which may have been appreciation or relief. Certainly, the latter for me was immense.

The spectrum of electronic-based music never fails to yield new and unexpected permutations, and Chaos Lol spans an immense spectrum, and is rare in the way vocals are such a prominent feature of the set – a set that starts out black metal then gets symphonic and beyond. It’s an unusual hybrid of sounds. Heavily echoed vocals are enmeshed in a swathe of sound and are paired with some bulbous beats that venture into drum ‘n’ bass territory in places. It’s hard to form an opinion or decide whether one actually likes it or not, because it’s like being slapped around the face repeatedly and in quick succession, and you simply have no time to compute. But there are no two ways about it: this is technically accomplished, ambitious, audacious, and gutsy. Kudos.

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Chaos lol

Quiet Fire, aka organiser Joe Kemp, who’s up next, treated us to more mellow, more conventional instrumental with electro vibes, pleasant but undemanding – which is probably what everyone was ready for after the last couple of acts. His sound is softer, leaning toward the accessible, bouncier side of electronica – not quite dance, but danceable, and unquestionably with mass-market potential.

Flaves proves to be the evening’s greatest revelation. This guy has got some serious chops, and brings freeform dubby hip-hop using the most minimal setup of the night – literally an iPad. And it’s sparse but seriously banging. There’s a lot of detail and depth to the arrangements, and a lot of seriously heavy bass. The final track of the set is dark and noisy, borderline industrial, and it’s an absolute killer.

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Flaves

I’d chatted to Matt Wilson earlier in the evening as he’d lugged his suitcase of children’s toys and assorted random kit into the venue, and is so often the case, the nicest, most down to earth people make some of the weirdest, most demented music. Using a sackful of educational toys and the like, he gets down to whacking out some mental circuit bending noise was utterly brain-bending. Circle! Square! Yap! Yap! A primitive drum machine thumps out a simple beat, and it all harks back to the sound of early 80s samplism and tape looping. What it lacks in sophistication, it makes up in impact.

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Matt Wilson

It was around this point I came to realise I can only take so much impact, and having performed myself I was fully out of steam and hit my limit, mentally. While hearing music is usually my priority at the exclusion of all else, I caught up in the bar with a friend I’d not seen since February 2020. Ordinarily, I’d feel guilty or even skip posting a half review, but then I remember – since it’s impossible to represent everyone’s experience, the job it to ultimately document mine. I can aim to be objective, but criticism can only be so balanced, and perhaps my job is to more document what I see as I see it in the moment. So here we are. And if live music is about music, it’s also about connecting with friends. Maybe this, then, is how we will find our way back to normal. Meanwhile, we all just continue to fumble our own individual ways.

Secret Warehouse Of Sound Records – 15th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Here we are at the fading fag-end of the shittiets year in living memory and yet as energy levels and any prospect of salvaging anything of real merit fades faster than that of a satisfactory deal on Brexit, some are keeping those flickering flames of optimism alive. With venues having been closed since March, the odd socially-distanced all-seated show notwithstanding, live music has been largely off the table in 2020, leaving not so much a gap as a gaping chasm in the lives of many, and not only gigging musicians and venues and the staff who work in those venues in their various capacities.

Music is more than music: music is community, music is a place of retreat, of escape, music is personal freedom. But music is also… music, an outlet for its makers and a conduit for its fans, and Muca & La Marquise are determined to wring the very last drop of accomplishment from this bleak year with their fourth single of the year in the shape of ‘Devil’s Dance’.

An acoustic homage to long summer days spent lounging under the gaze of an unrelenting sun, it feels like a real misfit in what feels like the darkest week of the darkest month of the darkest year, but maybe that was the plan – to break through the deep-set mopology and lift the spirits with something bright, buoyant, and above all, summery – think Bobby McFerrin, think Macy Gray, think Paolo Nutini’s ‘New Shoes’, think laid-back soulful jazz-flavoured mellowness. Think maybe about not thinking for a bit and giving your brain a rest. I know it’s not aggro. It’s time for a night off. With a large whisky and some candles lit, this one’s working for me.

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The Secret Warehouse of Sound Recordings – 23rd September 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Blue Moon Bossa’ is the follow-up to Muca & La Marquise’s debut, ‘London’, and I have to confess this isn’t my regular bag and certainly not regular Aural Aggro fodder. In a fit of antagonism, I’d ordinarily dismiss the majority of jazzy / bossa stuff a bunch of muso wank and sonic wallpaper, but for every rule there is, and has to be an exception.

Moreover, jazz, like blues, has a certain place, and I began to develop my appreciation of both back in the days of smoke-filled basement bars putting on late-night shows where the emphasis was on slowing things down, relaxing and cutting loose a bit. These aren’t things I’m especially good at, but given the right ambience, the right soundtrack, and the right whisky, it turns out even I can chill a little.

‘Blue Moon Bossa’ is the epitome of chill – or even chiiiiiiill. It’s smooth as smooth gets, muffled, smoky, laid back to horizontal, hypnotic mid-tempo, and mellow as, with sultry vocals accompanied by acoustic instrumentation of guitar and hand-drums that’s understated and subtly melts together to create something a shade soporific, it’s one of those cuts that lowers the heart rate and transports the listener to a calm place, real or imagined. A little escapism goes a long way in a world of pressure and stress, and this is just nice.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Pierre Massé, the man behind the Paramestre project, threatens ‘Electronic-ish music with human vocals, guitars (played by a human), and far too many effects (along with a healthy dose of digital manipulation)’. It’s an intriguing proposition, and is it even possible to have too many effects, at least when used well?

As Massé explains in the liner notes, ‘As stated by the opening track, it is nothing “perfect”; there are artefacts from tortured source material, there is noise, there are glitches from randomized effects processing, and there is no pitch correction. But there is also warmth, groove, melancholy, and hope. I hope you find something that speaks to you amidst it all.’

This is, to my mind, a succinct summary of why any artist creates; in the hope of there being a shred of commonality with the receiver in the work. But, at the same time, creating not with the audience at the forefront of the creative process. This, ultimately, is what differentiates art from entertainment. The latter is primarily commercial, designed for the (perceived) audience. Art exists for its own sake, and any audience it attracts finds it.

Rippling post-rock guitars with an almost Spanish vibe cascade softly over a dislocated beat that bumps and bounces and flickers on the aforementioned opening track, providing a supple, mellow backdrop to Pierre’s dreamy, soulful vocals, and it’s a smooth, Gallic air that permeates the lilting synth pop of ‘Elle’. It’s pleasant, but it’s not an instant grab by any means, and much of Conditions Initiales feels in some ways exploratory, tentative. It isn’t that the songs themselves feel incomplete, because they certain don’t: it’s more that one feels Massé is still working towards a sound that is one he’s entirely comfortable with, that translates his sonic ambition into the final recorded output.

‘Conceal/Reveal’ goes a shade darker, but it’s the subdued waltz of the seven-minute ‘Madeleines’, with its echoing sampled background conversation that creates a subtle but clear level of juxtaposition, that really draws the listener in, in search of its evasive heart amongst the layers.

And it’s when Massé goes still darker and brings thudding beats to the fore that Conditions Initiales really becomes interesting: ‘Carry’ and closer, ‘Endless’ are both sparse but feature more prominent percussion, the latter worthy of favourable comparisons to Depeche Mode.

Understated as it is, Conditions Initiales contains no shortage of detail, and it’s an intriguing debut that hints at even better to come.

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Jam Records/343Records

Christopher Nosnibor

Misophonia is the third solo outing for Third Of Never guitarist/founder Jon Dawson, and it’s certainly quite a departure from his main musical vehicle. Instead of mining a seem of driving rock with clear ‘classic’ roots in the vintage greats, Misophonia is an exercise in dreamy floaty, droney electronica, punctuated with some magnificently mellow, understated guitar work.

Everything is drenched in infinite reverb, and has an aura of ethereal otherness and distance. On ‘Lighter Fluid’, a child’s voice cries out amidst crunches and crackles of static, while ‘Coffee From a Stranger’ is a sliver of whimsical country slide that chimes and tinkles and fades in and out of focus. There are dark undertones and dank rumblings to be found on ‘David Lynch Owes Me Money’ as well as distant instrumentation and a rising tension.

Birdsong, glitches and extranea feature heavily across the album’s fifteen short segments which segue into one another to form a near-continuous abstract drift, and the story behind the album’s development during the recording of Third of Never’s last album, Austerity, as told by Dawson himself, is interesting and useful in proving some context:

“I started the Misophonia project during the sessions for the Third Of Never album Austerity, which turned out to be a real bruiser,” Dawson said. “As a way to cleanse the palette between sessions, I started scoring the events of the day using drones, soundscapes, and piano. Listening back to it now, it seems as if the proceedings had taken a tense tone.”

It resonates: while taking isolated walks, like many, I have noticed birdsong more. Perhaps not because there are more birds or more songs, but because the roar of traffic and planes and general noise is diminished. Then, against the backdrop of such quiet, distant engines and other sounds stand out more. I’ve heard fewer sirens, but suspect that’s because ambulances and other emergency vehicles have no traffic to clear, not because of a lack of emergencies. Context counts, and it makes sense to clear the mind with something completely unstructured and soft while bashing out hefty riffs by way of a dayjob.

‘Someone is Walking Toward the House’ is filmic, but also captivatingly haunting, as a picked guitar motif drifts across a low-end grumble, while the final piece, ‘The Age of Anxiety’ pins a rarefied atmosphere to a sad, lonely piano that echoes into emptiness. And it hits home: we are all there, surrounded by nothing, just sound in space and we cling to whatever we can. This is indeed not only the age of anxiety, but the specific point where life threatens to overwhelm us.

What Misophonia offers is the opportunity to step back, reflect, and create much-needed mental space.

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