The artisan level of songcraft poured in is quite staggering.
Andrzej Lukowski 2009-09-16
Back in 2007, oddly-named Philadelphia quartet A Sunny Day in Glasgow stepped out of nowhere and into the light with Scribble Mural Comic Journal, an almost freakishly fully-formed collection of celestial dream-pop. Two years later and they return as low-key players in a crowded field, with the likes of Beach House, School of Seven Bells, Deerhunter and the latest incarnation of Animal Collective mining similar sounds to wider notice.
Yet if being unweighted by either scorching guitar hooks or intelligible vocals perhaps leaves ASDIG too unearthly for mainstream crossover, the band are hardly un-ambitious. Second album Ashes Grammar is a raising of their game; a seamless, symphonic 22 tracks that twist and glitter like a lake of pristine morning mist. In effect one continuous movement of music, it has definition nonetheless, the swirl of floaty electronics, warm psychedelia and Robin and Lauren Daniels’ seraphic vocals every so often crystallising into something approaching a pop song.
Panda Bear would drool with envy at the rich, tropical miasma of Failure, while the ghostly glamour of Close Chorus would fit nicely onto Atlas Sound’s superb forthcoming Logos. Yet these focal points are far from the real story – the song that connects the two, Curse Words, is two barely there minutes of quiet, echoey vocals that grounds the bubbling energies of Failure while almost imperceptibly introducing the vocal refrain of Close Chorus. The artisan level of songcraft poured into such a subtle, humble piece is quite staggering, when you think about it. But the point is that you don’t think about it: much of Ashes Grammar flows past in an ambient slipstream: intangible, but leaving the lingering impression of a pleasant dream.
If all this has a downside it’s that, like a dream, Ashes Grammar evaporates unexpectedly rather than reaching a satisfying climax, while after an hour listening to the thing, it’s undeniable that’s it’s pretty hard to remember much of what’s just happened. But is that such a drawback when you can just immerse yourself again?