The beat of “Victim” stumbles and sucks; electronic booms, reverse cymbals. It’s a body jerking in rash respiratory indecision. The chest bursts outward and retreats at speed. Fragments of melody congregate around the rhythm like twenty thoughts demanding full attention simultaneously. Safe is the sound of peaceful coherence and single-minded conviction dividing into competing, contradictory sub-strands of emotion and self: burrowing worms of bass frequency, misshapen cuttings of re-pitched vocal, synthesisers emulating breath or flesh and failing in doing so. Disarrayed constellations of R&B (reasoning and body?) drift outward and shiver in panic. Promptly, Visionist commences the task of re-assembling himself.
But whereas the record is in spatial disarray – convulsive glitches and choir pads situated yards apart from eachother – I can hear the spectre of the whole emerging in harmony. Safe has a beautiful concept of tonality. It’s inward-looking, quietly sombre; somewhat glistening and spiritual in its slants of suspended harmony and near-resolutions. Electronic segments engage in quiet debates over vast stretches of space, reacting to eachother constantly in a manner that forbids the comfort of the strict repeat. Not to say there isn’t a rhythmic recurrence running through Safe (because there definitely is – the album has a gorgeous momentum in this respect), but this recurrence has to wilfully persist amidst an unsettling tendency toward melodic flux, like a mantra recounted over and over again during times of apprehension (“everything is fine, I’m okay…”), desperately keeping rational thought bobbing at the surface of turbulent, destructive anxiety.