A soundtrack to lift the heaviest of heads from narcotic slumber.
Mike Diver 2010-05-14
Morning-after electro from a pair of London-based sorts with previous form in underground outfits, the debut album from Walls is the kind of woozy fare designed to soundtrack the haziest of dawns, to lift the heaviest of heads from narcotic slumber. It’s a collection – brief at less than 30 minutes in length – that shifts from fuzzy drones to gentle beats and synths as spied through gauze of stripped circuit boards and old CPUs. But such is its lightness of touch that the listener may struggle to remember any aspect of it once the curtain’s fallen.
What the record lacks in substance it makes up for in beauty – at no point does this eponymous set fail to have the heart at least faintly fluttering, as processed guitar passages dance around percussive elements that recall the slower-of-tempo moments of Nathan Fake and fellow Border Community artist Fairmont, as well as Ghostly International’s Matthew Dear and Apparat, aka Sascha Ring. The latter artist’s last solo album, of 2007, was titled Walls – if this release is named as a tribute, then the stylistic similarities certainly support the gesture. But while Apparat – last seen as half of Moderat – mixes introspection with dancefloor-minded material, Walls concentrate exclusively on the comedown. As such, they engage only when the situation suits; they complement a certain state of being rather than instigating actions through their own.
When vocals do appear they are out of focus, employed as melodic enhancers rather than narrative-deploying embellishments atop the mix. Without any lyrical hooks, Cylopean Remains and Gaberdine fit seamlessly into a sequence that encourages playing in full rather than pick-and-mix shuffling – but they omit the opportunity to stand out from the set to the detriment of this record’s overall longevity. Simply, there are better albums out there that provide the perfect accompaniment to a foggy fumble towards sobriety – Eluvium’s latest is a personal favourite, and Kompakt labelmate The Field is responsible for two albums of suitably stirring minimalism. But as an alternative to the suffocating paranoia of London’s dubstep crowd and the techno tones emanating from the continent, Walls are (/is) as refreshing as a Sunday slide into a soothing swimming pool at the end of a summer holiday’s unrestrained hedonism.