Immediately, I imagine abandoned buildings bedizened with the arboreal jewellery of neglect. Ivy spiralling around eroding stone pillars. Jagged branches forcing their way through window frames. Voices and strings weave themselves into beautiful beds of overgrowth, chaotic in how they swoop over and under eachother. Strange distorted samples gleam like moonlight upon a swamp of guitar delays. This is music left to the hands of mould and nature; ideas starved into deterioration, claimed by decay.
Tristan Shorr is stranded right in the middle of this. “I think I’m gonna go hungry in the woods today,” he sings, wrapping himself in a blanket of vocal harmony as an antidote to isolation and freezing temperatures. Famished, cold, lonely. Brass instruments clot the sky in violet hallucinations; drum loops throb against the side of the skull. Just as the forest claims that which cannot fend it off, Shorr’s mind is engulfed by the strange, hostile blossoms of self-doubt and primal fear. Drones stream through the soundscape as voices and violins feed back on themselves, lingering upon crooked chords and prolonging the state of unease.
The album unfolds in a beautiful manner. Even at its most alarming and unexpected (for example, the pattering rhythm that shudders through the album’s closing minutes) Near Dark isn’t driven by the forceful hand of artistic will. I feel as though Shorr surrenders himself to the throes of nature and organic hallucination; a victim of his own work rather than a puppeteer. We crouch together in the dark, eyes and ears pointed outward in search of potential threat, fully aware that the real architect of horror actually resides within.