Hushed, Dark Beauty
Less is ever so much more on these minimally instrumented, mystically worded plain songs. Acoustic guitar builds a coiled intensity and half-sheathed menace through pure repetition; “Lord of the Flies” has as its main accompaniment a series of same-toned eighth notes that run staccato and stark under Mat Sweet’s murmured poetry. Happier textures and luminous arpeggios liven daydreams like “That Angel Was Pretty Lame”, but menace and melancholy are the primary colors. Two notes, alternated with aching slowness, build a whole architecture of regret and longing in centerpiece “Green Lion Devours the Sun, Blood Decends to Earth”, a place for Sweet’s soft voice to blossom in sadness. Like Tunng and others, Sweet makes sparing use of field recordings, other instruments, and technology to underline his taut compositions. There’s a haunting moan of untuned strings at the start to “Two Across the Mouth”, and an electro-beat bubbling under “27th Raven’s Head”. Still, mostly it is whisper-sung words, percussive guitar cadences and… silence. Quiet is perhaps the main character in the long, ominous “Bell for Harness”, ready to absorb hesitant guitar figures and half voiced words into its bottomless depths. Lovely and unsettling, these tracks seem to halt time and space.