All Other Voices Gone, Only Yours Remains unites the UK’s The Humble Bee, America’s Offthesky, and Spanish photographer and artist Nieves Mingueza. IIKKI focus on dialogues between visual artistry and musical artistry, and All Other Voices Gone, Only Yours Remainsis a heavenly episode. Opener ‘For Her Breath Is On All That Hath Life’ is a delectable, swirling dream, the thrill of a new romance, where Cupid’s arrow inflicts a purple bruise that looks more like a gorgeous sunset, feeling less like a painful stab and more like a tender kiss. The cherished wounds still show up on the skin, and the music is scented with a dreamy perfume. A deep intoxication grips the record. The atmosphere is warm and safe: nothing can harm.
The same is true for Mingueza’s dream-world and her striking contrasts between the real and the unreal. Dreams are a safe gateway, boundless and pregnant with possibility, and their music is just as expansive, yearning for a dream to come true. There’s a sharp disconnect between dream and reality, though. In the fiction, everything works out. There’s no decay or decline. In reality, the barbaric reigns: children are being separated from their parents and placed in cages, even in such a place as America, the so-called free world. So there’s an ache, a pang, to stay in the dream, to unplug and disconnect from the cruelty and the overwhelming dissonance of the world. To turn off, shut down, and live within the music. But the dream cannot survive: it has a half-life, a mere eight hours at best. The piano understands and accepts this, because the notes dissolve in the middle of the track, already failing and crackling at the seams. Fiction is exactly that.
The music’s soft heart provides an innocent sound, and one as natural as breathing. Her voice is a beautiful aria, and her breathing in the quiet of the night is a delicate rhythm from the divine. Love is the sweetest music. The underlying oscillations and textures are buried deep within the mix, forming a central part of the swirling sound, while other instruments provide a form of ornamentation, a hanging necklace to add colour and depth to the body of sound. They do more than decorate the music, though.
Crackles and hisses squeeze into a tight and once-vacant space, but it never feels claustrophobic. Things flutter in the mix. More sounds become involved and the mix turns muddy, becoming more fragmented, breaking up.
The first signs of decay are on the horizon.
The seasons turn and the ambient music remains true, like the strong bonds of love. Even the strings lose their sharp contours, not so much slicing with a sharp, acidic tone but echoing with softness. This softness is like love: patient, forgiving, accepting. Sliding rather than grating, the strings travel through a waterfall of reverb, coming out refreshed.
Dreams are a doorway to utopia. Reality is a one-way street. Dreams offer intoxication and warmth. Reality is a splash of cold rain.
The Humble Bee is the solo project from Craig Tattersall – a founding member of The Boats, former member of The Remote Viewer and Famous Boyfriend. He’s also collaborated with Bill Seaman and he ran the Cotton Goods label for 7 years. Offthesky is Jason Corder. Currently living in Denver, Colorado, he’s been featured on labels such as Dronarivm, Eilean, Hibernate, Home Normal, and Rural Colours. Experimental and independent artist Nieves Mingueza was born in Spain and now resides in London. She uses photography and other visual media in her work. Old books, film stills, vintage cameras, poetry, and minimal drawings are common themes and all influence her art, but her work is ‘ultimately about the foggy relationship between fiction and reality’. She also explores issues of immigration, mental health, and human conflict. The dissonance between fiction and reality is evident in the music: swimming in ethereal tones and crossing over from the silky fabric of fiction to the more abrasive leather of reality as the dream dissolves.
Available on both CD and vinyl, IIKKI’s release comes with a hardcover fine art book of 80 pages and 50 photographs, an imprint of high quality which matches the music within its grooves, making for a luxurious record where every detail has been poured over and delivered with the highest affection, like a lover to their sweetheart.