“White Rooms” lies in a cemetery obscured by grey-stoned reminders. Rather than becoming a downbeat shadow of itself, the music is optimistic, even celebratory. It can’t escape the past — nothing can — but it can move on. The floral tributes that linger beside the tomb conjure up a feeling of final rest. It’s a chance for closure, but the closing of a chapter brings about the beginning of a new dawn, and the chance for a new life and a new opportunity. Although the crouched figures would seem to say otherwise, mourning is now over.
Graveyard Tapes (Euan McMeeken & Matthew Collings) have, with their second album, put the misery and deep upset of their first record “Our Sound Is Our Wound” far behind them. Right off the bat you’ll see that the tempos are faster, as if they’re urgently trying to set right what was once so badly dislocated. Where once decay had set in, there is now release. You can feel this release as an outpouring of relief, and positive energy soon filters into the music. Static covers the melody, leaving puddles of distortion showered in the light of its recovery. The vocals are weakened and heavily diluted against a busy backdrop, but they still shine. The ghosts are leaving, being pushed away by the thumping rhythms and the melodic steam that trails through the air. Influences such as Radiohead and Atlas Sound creep into the music, but Graveyard Tapes have their own unreachable crypt. It wakes from combat, ready for a new day.
“Dulcitone Grasses” is light and reflective, cautiously moving forward with every step. It carries on, choosing to dispense with the past and the tightly wrapped sheet it had once cocooned its prey inside. It had almost strangled the life out of the music, but her true colours gave her victory over the darkness. A sudden outbreak of noise tries to disrupt the progress, but McMeeken’s contemplative singing takes away the pain. They are both pushing things forward. It requires a lot of effort to move on from a painful episode, but they are ready to face it down, ready for revival. The vicious attack of the guitar cuts through the track “Could You Really Kill?”, and the repetition almost gives it the accolade of a nasty riff. It’s an intentionally noisy track, but it’s then severed into silence. Soon after, it comes back from the brink with its instrumental flourish, cutting with brute force into the space where the vocal had once resided.
Despite this, “White Rooms” retains its near-silent, hushed mood. It sits under a fallen canopy that has been crushed by its own colossal sound, its many effects wrapped around a cloying band of atmospheric fog. Like a couple of people in the midst of an elephantine forest, their music is at once intimate and yet infinite, crawling with many different vines and copious tones that sneak around the root of the key. Rising out of the tomb, this new beginning is an unfamiliar place, but it’s an exciting place — this white room, light shining out of the dark.
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