Review: David Vélez – Apathy Spreads

éter27-webDon’t disregard so quickly. Listen again. The sounds on Apathy Spreads are repeated and prolonged, which is Vélez holding my head down, keeping me submerged until I understand. On initial acquaintance, many of the textures are unremarkable: fuzzy and monochromatic, like hunks of broken breeze block or rocks wrapped in milky-white bubble wrap. Distortion and interference obfuscate the inane twang of guitar, while feedback sings over motor noise. The ideas don’t connect cleanly either, with loops begrudgingly crushed into eachother at awkward angles. It’s a part-constructed factory building. Brick walls trail off and support beams outstretch into nowhere. Machinery sits crooked and neglected on the floor. Asymmetric, colourless, unfinished.

Yet Vélez doesn’t allow me to move on as quickly as I might like. As Apathy Spreads dwells upon each situation (for about five minutes each time), I start to hear them differently. “Machine 1” initially feels like a broken lawnmower – screws and panels rattling as the engine sputters into life – before I start to acknowledge the violent erraticism of its trundle and metallic cascade, with shrapnel dancing in fits and bursts as the rumble beneath surges and recedes. Meanwhile, the seemingly trivial loop of opening track “When”, which sweeps the frame like a lighthouse beam of shriek and industrial fizz, starts to become the album’s adhesive motif. It fades in during track transitions, patrolling the corridors and surveying the album’s warped structures, wading through the mists of white noise that hang like the spillage of cracked hydraulic pipes.

There is purpose and nuance just beneath the surface, yet I’m lured away by the behest of my distracted, sleepwalking mind – allergic to the labour of persistence and postponed reward, reluctant to crack the façade of first impression. It’s my apathy as a listener that tells me to leave. Vélez’s record is an urge to question my instinctive indifference; to shatter the lull of simple pleasures in favour of the profound splendour that resides just out of reach. Through repetition, I’m instructed to persist.