21 April 2012

sink \ sink - the darkest dark goes (Feedback Loop, 2012)

Hangover type of album, as I never really know if their songs makes me feel high or just saturate my brain, as "The darkest dark goes" is both intense and badly balanced as a whole. 

Sometimes it sounds like 4AD ethereal stuff but witohut really embracing the genre, as there is something from The Cocteau Twins, from This Mortal Coil or more or less related bands like Shelleyan Orphan, or even Mazzy Star, while in fact it mostly fits along much more recent bands like Memoryhouse or Au Palais in their songwriting and directions.

It is ethereal, but also quite dark, sometimes cold, and at times for their best, strangely melodic. Strangely because most of the time they sounds like a shoegazing band but minus the lead guitars. 

sink \ sink makes me think of a band whose lead guitarist would have left the ship with most of the effects and melodic line, giving the open space to a second guitar which is shy and always stays in the background, and mostly to vocals which would have been buried under reverb and distortion in the other setup and which are now at the forefront as the main responsible of the melodies.

sink \ sink is a trio, with Gareth Schott (writing and recording the music in New Zealand), Kim Schulke (singing from the USA) and Callum Plews (writing the lyrics, mixing and mastering from the USA too), balancing between ambient drones atmospheres and vocal melodies with a few elements not filling the gap completely. 

The tension rises from this confrontation. It is only when they stop to respect this dichotomy, I mean when the atmosphere starts to be invasive and when the vocals are becoming cold and atone, in an almost Gothic / new wave way, that I feel inclined to skip the track.

Opening track "Astronávt" is of pure daybreak dewed beauty, with the freestyle melody of Kim Schulke. You never really know when she will start to sing or stop as the other elements are floating in an always moving, uncertain space. Such particularity creates a really interesting feeling of freedom and innocence, just like if The Mortal Coil was projected inside a blurred and humid Twin Peaks atmosphere.

As soon as it becomes more quiet, their lack of minimalism fails to truly convince, and "Wild eyes" is at best just pleasant. But when Kim Schulke follows an ethereal epic melody, like on "Place that I love", backed by the evocation of large open landscapes it turns rapidly into something addictive and inviting. And there, they are finding their voice and expression, showing a real potential and it sounds like a canvas to play around for more developments and variety of forms.

The comparison with early Cocteau Twins makes sense as often on this record sink \ sink offers unpolished gemstones, like "Black gold" as example, which is both adventurous and simple, but already surprisingly efficient and the association of the vocal melody and the guitar offers a beautiful depth and you feel it is still mostly first steps in this direction for the band, as they seem to be dealing with a complexity which is their own and which they only start to uncover. Like on the early Cocteau Twins if I go on with this example, there are impasses like "Gursky", or unfinished trials, "From the year 1752", "Sunset" or "The title track".

With tracks like "Mojave" or those mentioned before ("Astronávt", "Place that I love" and "Black Gold"), the discovery trip is more than worthwhile as they follow unexpected path there and every time the song seems dying, Kim Schulke seems to emerge with a new vocal impulsion. The result might be confusing but for good reasons and result. 

Everything is still open for sink \ sink, it's their next album which might be a turning point or not.


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