John Metcalfe

The Appearance of Colour

A slow burner, ‘The Appearance of Colour’ is not what it initially seems. Equally slow and fast-paced, the music somehow manages to have at least two very different personalities occupying the same skull. A leisurely, dragging drone is suddenly turned upside down with the arrival of an anvil-heavy sequence of beats; retro-styled drum and bass music from the early nineties has returned.

The auto-tuned vocals (yes, auto-tune – please don’t let that put you off) never sound like a cliché, or a notorious example of the sound that plagues modern day pop music. John Metcalfe weaves together his music with fluidity and finesse. The almost operatic vocal of ‘Sun’ passes overhead, and synth-laden arpeggios dapple the light. The twenty-minute opener has everything. The Appearance of Colour is full of eclectic vibes and soft, mellow moments that stay until the day has turned to the dusky shade of late afternoon.

‘The Appearance of Colour’ is a real treat; the padded beats and the soft, clear guitar lines that fire off their sweetly tuned melodies prove as much. Drum and bass rhythms kick in, injecting the music with a real sense of momentum, and a gilded ambient layer sits just behind it. Ever-so-soft guitar lines coast through the music, gliding as if riding in a high-end sports car, moving through the gears at a leisurely pace; there’s no rush or inclination to go any faster. Like a red light that waits up ahead, the strings slow the music down, but they later disappear.

The piano can also slow the music down. It’s as if the music’s saying “digest it, take your time and enjoy it”. ‘The Appearance of Colour’ is as colourful as a rainbow. The electric guitar lines, dosed up on reverb, are thoroughly chilled out, unlocking the door for some musical melatonin to seep through. Classical strings help to sharpen the ornamentation, and when they later sidle alongside the stuttering, running rhythm it all gels together nicely – and surprisingly. You’d never have thought they would go so well together, but life’s full of surprises. The beats rush through, pulling off spins, twists and pirouettes that an Olympic gymnast would be proud of.

Later on, the piano sits alone. On a record that whizzes by at an incredible speed, ‘Kite’ is a welcome pause. It doesn’t last. The clear glass of a shiny guitar tone surfaces, playing lovely, lilting melodies as it skates along. The music has changed its clothes – an ambient t-shirt, a pair of electronic jeans, a classical sweatshirt. But throughout the album one message stays the same: just let go.

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