Beauty and compromise run deep through the veins that are stitched into each ebb and flow. Contorted and kept just a shade out of shape, free-flowing down straights and restricted at angles, I find myself pressed and pinched then released by the unnatural designs of the album’s ambitions.
Boards see tension / release as a coupling, twisting at each other’s endings. Again and again on this forthcoming album I’m teased with applied mounting pressures until instead of snapping, instead of peak weight, euphoria takes hold and takes over.
Glass Top to Gold Focus comes first; Glass top is a Burial-esque industrialised slab of slow focused tightly wound menace. Distorted crushed sounds, squealing out at their edges, soundtrack a tightening vice, until Gold Focus calms and reclaims all composure with its half-decayed strings and glacial rhythms that shimmer with signs of new life.
Gold Focus is beauty restored, it’s the track that I keep going back to. Mournful optimistic, hope as a necessity, like a light or a faith that wont blink. But it’s by far the one sweetness here.
Halt to Carryover repeats the transition, darkness gives way to light, outlines merge into shapes, Halt’s workout and flexing of persistent wheezes and breath heavy bass synth meets Carryover’s end credit hymns; the wheezing relaxes, reunion takes over, slushed bell-tones hide in a (The) Knife-like cool air and the lift and fall settles in dust.
There’s a pop song here too, buried in hazes and slow growing glow. A Safe Space in Us is one of two tacks with vocals. It’s crystalline showdown of shoe gaze organics and soft settled sounds pairs with ease to hushed unhurried vocals. And there’s two things that come right to mind…. One; the vocals, their words and their tones could all be removed and the music would keep the same meaning. Two; the subjects, the words and the song title could just as easily serve as the sentiment that carries the album. A safe place is exactly where we move in and out of again and again in these songs. Like winning’s the flipside of loosing, like it’s just one slim thread in-between. Fear of the dark and a love of new light, restrict and reform as a norm.
While we move through equations and humanmath melodies, back and forth through the grind and the glisten, I develop a sense of expectance. I’ve started to work out how long to hold out before each new drawing of breath. Are the first hits the best just because they are new or is there something hidden intrinsically inside the weight and the scope of those tracks? I still can’t decide, even after listen on listen on listen…
But listen on listen I have, and there’s delayed reward every time. The last twinset begins with urgent messed rhythms of synthlines too weighted to swirl. They dig out and under and fade in and out as nerves work out how to react. By far not as harsh as some other sounds found here but the mix of unease and semi-built dread is more focused and clean plain to see. Oscillations in underground subways at night, dreams that don’t wake you but make you want to leave the stage between awareness and panic. Corners is the right title given… that’s where everything hides when you’re tired. Then Glacier moves in like cool blue thin ice and you’re glad of the solid and slick. We don’t get the relief of Gold Focus. It’s not always pretty, it’s haunted. But after all of the drift to and fro through the grime and new light that’s been shed, it’s a perfect response to their questions; There’s beauty like gold in the dirt, the tunnel has light at both ends, even when you’re caught in the middle.
I come back to this album in slabs, picking new chunks every time. There’s too much to unpack in one sitting or maybe the pace gets familiar. I come back to this album in slabs… I will do again and again.