Review: smallhaus – unweather

a2006648357_16I daydream about my past all the time, but some moments in life trigger a much deeper, more deliberate bout of retrospection. At the end of the year for example, or in the immediate wake of enormous news events. My world undergoes a tilt, and I pull together the artefacts of my life so far to try and recalibrate my position. To me, unweather sounds like one of these meditative meanderings through personal history. I twist unforgettable highs and lows into idle memory debris. Chronology folds in on itself, with the vivid experiences of last week seeping into the hazes of childhood. Tidal waves of shoegaze guitar drain to leave the hum and drip of degraded tapes, while field recordings from across the UK (Isle Of Mull, London, Hebden Bridge) become backdrops to flickers of melody or acoustic drones, which hang in the foreground like an inner calm or ripe, burdening upset; in other words, the emotional lens through which all external environment is refracted.

Obfuscation is everywhere. Birdsong is part-hidden by keyboards, which in turn are smeared into feedback tones. Guitars bluster like harsh winds (influenced by coastal walks in the Hebrides, perhaps?) or blur into chorus, or slip into giddy reverse. Sections crossfade and conceal their true beginnings and endings in the process, tucking the tail of one memory into the open door of another. No doubt smallhaus spent many hours stitching these fragments together, finding threads of continuity between disparate patches of time and place, carefully introducing storms of distortion to crisp, undisturbed pools of tranquility. Yet something about unweather feels loose and unforced, concealing the labour of composition behind a movement that seems to trace the first inclination of the mind.