The recording space feels small. A bit dishevelled. The mains wiring is dangerously temperamental – the plug sockets buzz much more than they should – while the air conditioning has been broken for weeks, leaving the two musicians of Far Rainbow (Emily Mary Barnett and Bobby Barry) sweating into the carpet. Or at least, this is what I’m led to imagine based on this hissing, humid 44-minute track: cymbals and tom drums barely visible through the smog of interference and perspiration, electronic melodies billowing like steam from a tropical swamp, tape loops melting and decelerating under the moist heat. The movement feels stifled. Cymbal washes are dull and brief, while synthesiser motifs glitch as though trapped, unable to move, in the cramped crevice between the mixing desk and a hulking great amplifier stack. Is this what happens when sound pushes back? What if the noise wasn’t a liberated, thoroughly outward catharsis, but an energy that oozes uneasily from the pores, partly intent on retracting back into the heads and limbs from whence it came?
This sensation is derived from the noise that congeals between the more intentional actions. The entire piece is caked in these treacle-thick dollops of static, sticking to the air and to the hinges and keys of instruments. Without it, those throbs of keyboard and echo would present themselves with a more wistful, shoegazing levity – clouds of pink and azure, hovering in harmonies that never resolve, tinged with the melancholic lethargy of thinking and moving too much. Without it, the drums would crack against silence, crisp and assertive in their execution, punching holes in vaporous melodies that waft their way. Yet it’s the resistance and labour that makes Far Rainbow so exciting. Every sound emitted only adds to the opacious load that the duo have to bear. Gravity doubles. Visibility wanes. Every vibration edges the music toward a state of paralysis.