Fallows – Soundness

The music of Fallows, a collaboration between Jeff Stonehouse and Anne Garner, is at once distinct and murky. On the one hand, Jeff’s guitar is blurred, thanks to a sporadic melody being smeared across the undercurrent of the track like a thick streak of paint over an abstract art piece, echoing through and along vacated passages, sounding distant and removed while still being present. Anne Garner’s vocals help to clarify the atmosphere, to some extent, at least. Garner does more than sing, though. She uses a variety of vocal techniques, sighing and ushering out her voice into a reverb-haunted landscape. And it is a haunted world, tormented by the pain of unrequited love and unmet dreams. That doesn’t make it any less beautiful, though. On the contrary, Soundness is comfortable in its spillage of discomfort and unease, finding a dark beauty within its uneven lines of flesh that others would call scars.

There’s more than a passing reference to the films and music of David Lynch – their reworking of ‘Sycamore Trees’, written by Angelo Badalamenti and featured in Twin Peaks, occupies track three and is a sign as to the general tonal mood. Things become darker – tone, timbre, and atmosphere: daylight is cloaked entirely and substituted for permanent night, a total eclipse lasting for days, weeks, and months. If it were not for Anne’s vocals, the music would slip into the depths, and escape wouldn’t be possible. In that respect, her voice is like a lighthouse, echoing outwards, past the shore and beaming out into the foggy depths of the sea for all who are lost.

And I’ll see you / And you’ll see me / And I’ll see you in the branches that blow / In the breeze / I’ll see you in the trees / I’ll see you in the trees

Chords are slowly strummed once and left to ring in the air, leaving inky blots that swell to cover the whole area, darkening the purity of the white page and the empty background, step by step, like an invasive, growing presence; benevolent or malevolent, it’s never clear, although the chords are weighed down and slumbering, as if injected with a poison or some other intoxicant to nullify a long-standing and obdurate ache in the heart.

The music is heavy on atmosphere, but Anne’s vocals do enough to keep the darkness at arm’s length (for the most part), although they’re not entirely innocent. It would be a mistake to trust her voice completely, as the words join hands in creating a dark, slinking atmosphere, appearing to be a co-conspirator, in line and plotting with those crypt-chords, like Eve in the Garden, holding out a tempting apple in the palms of her hands and offering listeners the chance to take a bite. It’s going to be sweet, but the inside will be rotten. Anne’s voice is still beautiful, but the darkness taints it, and that’s a good thing. The music is undeniably bruised, but that’s what makes it resonate. Because the moonlight of midnight is beautiful, too.

I’ll see you in the trees.

www.oscarson.bandcamp.com

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