Review: Be My Friend In Exile – The Silence, The Darkness

“We continued our journey in a silence, which was by no means unpleasant, just a little shy”

This is the title of the album’s 10-minute centrepiece. The track itself brings back the sensation of falling asleep on the motorway (as a passenger, obviously): the muffled hiss of traffic filtering through the closed window; the comforting, metronomic throb of cats eyes’ illumination that washes over the vehicle like the tide breaking over and over; the cocooning safety of the exists in the rubber seals and leather seats; the visual lullaby of continual motion at a steady pace, sending the recurrent image back in on itself and thus passing me into sleep. Warm globules of sound bustle in the centre, jostling gently to the foreground and then dropping back, while strange clangs sweep from left to right intermittently, like a spring coming loose somewhere on my sensory periphery. Everything is blurred and indistinct. For an album whose titles elude to social anxiety and self-doubt, Gomes’ sounds (mainly guitar as a guess, but undoubtedly some synthesisers too) are the perfect remedy – offering the warmth of embrace without questions or expectations, and blotting out the silence that casts all under the harsh light of self-reflection.

But it’s a fragile refuge. On “The Anxiety We Carry With Us”, the sound chokes on itself ever so slightly – the mid frequencies become clogged and the melody gives way, with the volume cutting back to take a momentary, reviving inhale. Meanwhile, the tunnel of electronics on “Slowly Sucking The Life Out Of Me” seems to peer into the very void that the album otherwise evades, tugging patters of static into the black hole of the piece’s central synth choir baritone drone. It all makes the membrane of Gomes’ cocoon feel paper-thin; the alleviation of introspection is only momentary, and The Silence, The Darkness feels eternally haunted by the reality to which its maker must inevitably return.