MUSIC: Autumn’s Grey Solace, “Therium.” An Ethereal dreampop song suite.

Ever since 2011’s album Eifelian AGS has been composing abstract odes to long lost worlds. Eocene followed in 2018, and Therium is the latest addition to this thematic cluster. It doesn’t stray far from the formula of beautiful soprano wordless vocalizations (Erin Welton) over a shimmering tapestry of guitars, bass and drums (performed by Scott Ferrell). AGS is quite capable of making melodic structured pop songs—last year’s excellent XIII proved that. Therium sees the duo exploring post-rock soundscapes , like Sigur Rós—ambient music using traditional rock instruments. It’s best listened to as a song suite, but there are highlights. The halycon “Animalia” sounds like a lost track from Cocteau Twins’ Victorialand while the euphoric “Mammoth” and “Dire” have genuinely catchy hooks. Therium is the soundtrack for an imaginary film full of hypnotic imagery.

MUSIC REVIEW: Julianna Barwick, Nepenthe. Vocal Ice Sculptures.

Nepenthe

In the past, I have found Barwick’s vocal-based ambient music too wispy. A Barwick album is mostly made out of layers of her vocals that mass and drift along like dandelion seeds. It’s admirable, in the way looking at a frozen lake is. But it’s too insubstantial. For whatever reason, Nepenthe has grabbed me. There’s more structure to her work this time. And rather than just being ‘celestial,’ there is a definite atmosphere to each of the compositions–something darker and more pensive. It holds together as an album. It’s still chilly and wispy, but the melodies are stronger.The song One Half is even catchy, and has words. Nepenthe is closer in spirit to Sigur Ros than it is to Enya.

 

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