16 September 2010

Sketches For Albinos - days of being wild and kind (2010, Nothings66)

Based at Reykjavik, Matthew Collings releases music as Sketches for Albinos and this his is fourth release under this alias.

The use of references around the release of this album or older ones is somehow excessive as you can read things like "if Kevin Shields was a one-man band playing Steve Reich" or " resemblance to the works of veterans such as Godspeed You Black Emperor, Sigur Rós and Tortoise".

I was very close to give up listening to this album because at first it seems to confuse, sometimes almost bland, too dense or with a useless complexity and meaningless meanders. Fortunately if you can go through these episodic lacks of restraint or minimalism, you can discover underneath nice instants of intimacy.

Released on a new Japanese label, Nothings66, "Days of being wild and kind" follows albums on Imoto (UK) and Rodeadope (USA), finding home on distant labels in order to defend his music, but still under the radar. An influence you can't deny is the Sigur Ros one, but it's probably a question of orgin because the global mood is much more a bedroom one, recorded at home at night.

"Sorbonne Midnight" starts really nicely with a distant reverberated piano but slowly other layers of sound  - is it the Godspeed You Black Emperor influence at work here - come to obscure the purpose and hide a certain depth. While not totally under the charm, I can't dismiss the presence of a special sensitivity and a certain sincerity.

Another strange aspect is the constant addition of effects on the vocals in order to make them blurry and diminish their importance. They are often like drown among the instruments so Matthew is never exploiting their emotional intimate potential and full sincerity. The same could be said about the guitar, he never totally leads his song but instead let them floating around him as self-propelled objects with only temporary impulsion often done at the beginning of the song.  Here again, the last part of the song is more of embroidery nature than about a conclusion or final point.

"Red Sky on Fire" then appears like a sunny spell, the Sigur Ros influence is obvious, but the personal interpretation is totally convincing and it is successfully moving, you can feel the inhospitality of an icy winter outside while you shut yourself away from this behind walls and window in the comfort of your room and try to avoid too much melancholy to flood you. The next track, "Romy Schneider", an instrumental with spectral piano and field recordings extends the bliss.

Then you have strange improvisations, static and senseless, even if peaceful and climatic, "More Dixieland and Polka", "Polla", "Anna Karina" or "Kids with no energy".
We finally emerge from limbo with a pleasant melancholic song, "A Meeting At The Merry-Go-Round", but once again the vocals are buried, and due to this, fail to catch the attention. When he follows the minimalist path, the result is nicer like on "We live for spring". The albums goes on with three instrumental tracks which don't leave a mark one again even if the color of the sound is always good but as always it's like what really matters with these tracks never takes the main role and stays behind. 

"Days of being wild and kind" is really a strange album, sounding as if what Matthew Collings really wants is to disappear behind his music and reveal nothing, hidden behind curtains, avoiding piercing lights and mirrors. 

The most symptomatic diagnosis is finally the presence of three remix tracks at the end of the album where the contributors just do what he doesn't himself, the addition of a clear emotional presence which transcends the content.  Through the form of vocal samples by Moskitoo on "She's With Snoban Now", a drone wind, by Chihei Hatakeyama, which dissolves the fog on "Sorbonne Midnight", on as an appeasing ghostly presence moving in the garden and shaking the leaves at night on "A Meeting At The Merry-Go-Round" by Federico Durand.

<a href="http://sketchesforalbinos.bandcamp.com/album/days-of-being-wild-and-kind">days of being wild and kind by sketches for albinos</a>

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