FLUID AUDIO / FACTURE
It’s hard to tell whether Still Life is pulling itself apart or bringing itself together. The album is partly a magnet for the worn and estranged – sounds that carry the impression of having trekked 15 miles to arrive here, tattered and glitched, slumping down on shaking knees – but also an environment of coherence and ecological dialogue. Even though these recordings clearly originate from an array of different times, places and fidelities, they converse on Still Life as if they were biologically programmed to do just that; somehow aligned in their melodic direction, flocked into a slow-motion murmuration without even thinking about it. Consciously they are strangers to eachother, but on a deeper level of awareness they communicate with the profundity of family.
Often there’s the sense of cyclical causation running between these elements, with each sound abetting the gentle movements of those around it. On “Winter Sun” (the title of which leaves my mental images in no ambiguity), droplets of piano stimulate the spiky growth of electronics, which in turn glow under rays of ambient sunlight. Opener “Of Course, But Maybe” hinges on a clicking bicycle wheel that spins synthesisers through sparkling arpeggiations, like a mill blade churning up the water. In fact, all of the pieces carry the sense of barely-bristling life – landscapes in which only the very edges shiver with slight signs of movement, otherwise loitering in fragile stillness. Are the inhabitants imminently due to return, or have they only just departed? The bleak melodic progression of “Lament”, with its scorched guitars and frostbitten electronic waves, seems even to imply an apocalyptic root cause to the emptiness of these landscapes. Suddenly this meld of brokenness and unity adopts a new significance: these tracks are disaster zones as captured in the aftermath, both connected and obliterated by the fire.