Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Loving... "A Lone Cloudburst" by Sink \ Sink

I admit to being notoriously behind-the-curve at times. I only recently got ’into’ 80s bands like Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins and His Name Is Alive ... you know, the stalwarts on the seminal 4AD label.

It was to this label and, in particular, Cocteau Twins that my mind went when I first listened to "A Lone Cloudburst" by Sink \ Sink.

I admire the work of Sink \ Sink and was over-the-moon when Gareth Schott contacted me to tell me they had a new release about to go public. Their previous album had set me up nicely and I was slightly worried that this follow-up wouldn't quite meet the very high bar set. I was wrong, very wrong.

"A Lone Cloudburst" by Sink \ Sink is an utter delight. Their sound has evolved in such a manner that the seams between ambient, post-rock and neo-classical are truly invisible. Each track is wonderfully unique ... providing the listener with a varied and engaging experience.

What sets this album apart is the ethereal vocals of Ylva Krantz ... her tone & expression fit perfectly with the tracks presented. A cross between Liz Fraser, Lisa Gerrard & even the sadly missed Trish Keenan from Broadcast ... Krantz’s vocals are an absolute delight ... and so so right for this album.

Emphasising whilst simultaneously complementing Krantz’s vocals is the backing instrumentation. The musicianship of Gareth Schott (music) and Micah Templeton-Wolfe (piano / synths) is apparent when you take the time to consider the walls-of-sound that are presented by the group. Guitars (acoustic and electric). Cello. Glitchy sounds. Piano. Synths. They all work together to create such beauty. There is a post-rock / shoegaze vibe that underpins the whole release - tracks like “Submerged” remind me of My Bloody Valentine and Sigur Ros (which is always a good thing) ... but there is also a lo-fi aesthetic that comes through too ... tempered, in parts, by Catherine Milson’s cello. Her tone is exquisite and her ’just right’ approach is worthy of commendation. Her playing is always just right ... never too much and never inconsequential.

The album kicks of “cherished” ... a soundscape of sheer beauty. Glitchy sounds and guitar introduce Krantz’s more decipherable vocals ... before Milson’s cello comes in and takes the track forward. What an opener!

From there we move to “fade away” ... a more lo-fi acoustic guitar number that has some truly heartbreakingly beautiful vocals and a deliciously melancholic air. Schott’s guitar playing is worthy of note here ... especially when a layer more sustained electric guitar is introduced.

“A distant backdrop” is a shorter instrumental track that opens with a guitar drone and a field recording of rain hitting of a roof before opening up nicely. Milson’s cello is, once more, an absolutely delight ... her lilting, gentle playing really sets the scene for this relaxed piece. Which is complemented with some Sigur Ros-style guitar and ambience. This track is utterly beguiling ... worthy of a dark room and an audiophile hi-fi.

“Submerged”, as mentioned above, is more MBV. A dark, guitar-orientated wall-of-sound with some beautiful vocals from Krantz and some equally beautiful cello from Milson. What makes this track is the slow, methodically paced percussion ... it really brings the track together before the track morphs around the 2min mark ... with less distortion, more acoustic guitar and cello, and no percussion.

“Lämna dörren öppen” is a mysterious track which is sung in a language other than English (I'm sorry, I can’t place it ... it feels Scandinavian / Northern European). This track is where the Cocteau Twins and Sigur Ros meet. It is deeply engaging and wonderfully immersive ... it envelopes the listener in a warn, worn blanket of sound.

“last call sounded” - starts off low and subtle ... a drone greets the listener ... a drone that piqued my interest ... before it is joined with a shoegaze-style wall-of-sound enhanced by glitchy sounds and Krantz’s sublime vocals. This track is very Cocteau Twins ... a swirling head-rush of a track.

“nobody knows” - is gracious and elegant ... a slowburner that brings the full group together nicely ... guitars, cello, vocals, synths ... they all simply work together in such a display of harmony that it would be amiss not to be moved by the sound presented.

The penultimate track - “before” - is equally gracious and elegant ... with vocals that, at times, remind me of Trish Keenan from Broadcast. This is a deliciously ethereal and ambient track ... that is a real pleasure to consume.

The last track - “deep grey skies” - features acoustic guitar, Templeton-Wolfe’s subtle piano playing and more haunting vocals from Krantz. It is a fitting end to the whole release ... especially when it builds in intensity after a minute or so in. It is very much an exercise in light and shade ... and richer as a result.

I do not have a stand out track as they ALL stand out to me. I believe this album will stay with me for some considerable time ... it will not be coming off my iPhone anytime soon. In fact, I am tempted in buying the tape version and resurrecting my old Sony Walkman.

I must take time before I finish to acknowledge the efforts made with the tape release. The artwork and design are first class and have made me consider tape releases with weareallghosts. I found it very inspirational ... which is fitting considering how good the music is.

I would heartily recommend this release especially to fans of lo-fi and post-rock.



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