Summer Passes

Summer Passes / Evidence of Fractures, abstract woodcut design

Summer Passes / Evidence of Fractures — The Sly and Unseen and Caught In The Wake Forever

“Summer Passes / Evidence of Fractures” is a colourful split between The Sly and Unseen and Caught In The Wake Forever. Thousands of emotions roll around in the depths of the music, just waiting to be unearthed by the listener. There are some colourful instruments hidden inside — a shruti box and a mandolin, as well as cellos, guitars and glockenspiels. This ensures that the music has plenty of colour and vibrancy, and this is reflected in the opener ‘Seeking Warmth In Our Cold Climes’. The chiming notes are warm, tropical tones that repeat sweetly against the cooler cello. It’s a soft introduction that glistens in the sunlight.

The second track, ‘Slumming It Here With Our Common Pigeons’, draws itself into the dark. A gloomy, repeating bass and a sad, improvised melody lounge around in the dusky shadows, withdrawing from a cruel world. It’s a sharp contrast to what was a bright beginning. The music sits despondently in a different, cooler shade, introducing some unpredictability with its smooth and lucent mood. ‘Faded, Out of Place’ inserts the sound of birdsong, but it’s tastefully done — sweet instead of saccharine — and it isn’t the usual fare that can plague an ambient record. Such avian sounds have become somewhat of an ambient cliché — just because they are used so much — and while they can reflect serene, slow moments, the duo are obviously aware of their careful use and limitations, because rather than awakening the nest, they restrict the chirps to just a few of nature’s notes at any given time. The rural environment is something we’ve seen in their music before, and it’s a beautiful place to be.

The other side of the split, ‘Evidence of Fractures’, is introverted and gentle in its beautiful blossom. The fragrant opening is still and sets the mood for the vocal-led songs that follow. Watery loops gently ripple against the fading light of dusk, a pond of ill-light. The soft vocals breathe against the acoustic guitar in a tired drag of melancholia, and his words seem to come quietly out of the sound-hole, holding onto the sad notes as if for company; they can’t be alone when they’re together.

Caught In The Wake Forever (Fraser McGowan) has always crafted thoughtful pieces of music, with dense, foggy soundscapes reminiscent of a dreary January afternoon. But his music is anything but dreary. It’s cooler than the first side, and it gets colder; so cold, it scorches and cracks the ice with its skeletal hand of fear, loneliness and loss. The quiet but brave vocals share the limelight with tranquil, introspective instrumentals that sit and ponder from afar. A couple of songs in, we get to ‘Erskine’s Greatest’, and with its major chords it lifts the mood and the foggy state of mind that had tried to smother the music, replacing it with a lambent hope. It’s music reconciling with its soul. Apologies settle in the air, say adieu. The opening conversation sets the mood: “I’d say yes instead of no. I’d laugh instead of yell… people do strange things when they’re judged all the time instead of just being loved”. The music points to the deeper meaning of what it means to live (to love) and the importance of love itself. Yes, the sun goes down on us all, but love is something that never dies.


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