‘What the Fog’ is the second outing for the collaborative pairing of David Allred and Peter Broderick. The compositions on the 45-minute release from the Dauw label extracted from a soundtrack to an 11-hour documentary called #monalisa that shows a day in the life of the Louvre in Paris as people engage in art, crowds, and technology – and in that order. The film feels like a balance of recognising the disconnect that exists between those engaging in art in a commercial space – a disconnect that seems further exasperated when technology adds another layer of removal. But it is also a recognition of those quiet, shared moments of human connection because of, and sometimes in spite of the art, that seemingly gives the space its meaning. Musically, Allred and Broderick are up to the task of elevating the narrative and emotional are of that lived experience.
‘What the Fog’ Begins with an ending. An almost mournful one at that. Where the film feels like a proper opening, slowly easing us into its world, the music feels like it could just as equally be an outro. “The Foghorn” opens with digital ether and then a trumpet enters, playing out like a military sendoff in a way. There’s a sort of lamenting to these early notes. Slowly, washes of distortion undulate beneath it all, letting the trumpet melody drift away. But, as piano enters, an inviting calm and reflection begins to take hold. And when the trumpet rejoins the piano, this time the piece feels more ruddered.
Second piece “Cloud clearing” is bright and brief. Broderick’s lilting piano work invites us to stay in that place of calm a little further.
“Stasis Oasis” sounds like it’s title – rutted and lumbering. But this contrast with piece 2 shows how Allred and Broderick can quickly strike to the heart of a moment and immerse the listener. The piece teases a tension between optimism and defeat.
“Sky Swamp” undulates with slow piano strikes, over a haze of ethereal electronics. Piano chords play in slow motion creating suspense throughout – like an emotional metronome, measuring feeling at a few bpm. The synths flower above, as if waiting for the signal to shift or decay.
“Crystal Flower” returns to some of the tones of “Oasis Stasis”. Eventually, vapour trails of trumpet float by in the background as sci-fi like sounds whiz by – almost alluding the dystopian dynamics of a crowd immersed in personal technology rather than communal art. Sonically, the piece feels like a new layer to the overall composition. And the once mournful trumpet seems more vivacious almost ready to transform, but it is buried in the background as if trying to fight its way through the mirage of technological decay.
“Deep Dark” is as murky as it sounds. Deep in darkness with barely a shred of light. It’s feeling almost all consuming.
“Shadow Diver” opens in a circulating wash of distortion. As piano and trumpet enter, hope returns. But it moves at a slow pace as if exhausted by all that has come before. Drums enter, settling into a groove – but it’s a haunted one that provides a sense of progress in the face of exhaustion.
Closer “Outer Lands” with slow swaths of synths – the album is never afraid to play with and tease sci-fi tropes. But as it unfolds, it evolves into a piano-driven piece. And by the end, there is nothing but a lone piano to end things. It’s bittersweet – cautiously hopeful but somehow exhausted from the journey.
All totaled, “What the Fog” comes in around 45 minutes – a snap shot of the larger film. But as a contained narrative unto itself, it tells a full story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s an evocative journey with layers that will keep the listener coming back, likely more immersed on each return.