On his first proper studio album since 2000, Donnacha Costello delivers subtle but sentimental house and techno.
In lieu of the somber chord couplets that departures traditionally suggest, Ireland's Donnacha Costello styles his minimal house and techno with showy synth arpeggiations and spiraling grooves on Before We Say Goodbye. Mirroring a characteristic that's front-and-center on his Colorseries releases, Costello will often maintain a single sonic theme for several minutes at a time. At its most resonant, the meditation is anchored to dubby reverb treatment and warm keys, yielding deep, analog textures too frequently unexplored by contemporary producers.
"Leaving Berlin" fires up Before We Say Goodbye's dynamic song cycle with a fitting melancholy progression and faux strings that swirl around a core handful of bass chords. Sampled public announcements from what may be Berlin Central Station also materialize during the album's fantastic ambient closer, a hissing, Aphex-inspired set aptly tagged "Last Train Home". Slow burners like this one, as well as "The Tug" and "With Me Still", are rich with comely, understated melodies, but Before We Say Goodbye's club tracks are electrifying. "Roll It Out" strikes with a vengeance; its loop of fraying machine noises and grumbling undertow embody the sour, angrier feelings that we're apt to tuck away when parting with a friend or from a treasured city. These sentiments aren't as prominent as the lighter moods here, but the results are just as affecting.