Giving me a proper lesson in subtlety and fluidity this week was Almagrey with their self-titled album Almagrey. Almagrey has been playing gigs since 2015, creating a well deserved little buzz for themselves out of the Bristol, UK area and beyond. While shoegaze and dream pop are their focus when it comes to genre, there's a lot of additives in the music. Things like grunge and emo rock make pretty big appearances. The album is only three tracks long but packs an impressionable punch.
The opening track is "Static Fear." It opens up the listener to what sounds like chaos approaching from a galaxy far and away. The appearance of the word static is rather appropriate considering static, reverb and feedback are almost treated like instruments in this song. The guitar riff is foreboding and is accompanied by heavy electronic ambiance that is dark in nature. There is also the monotone vocals which are what help maintain the dreamy part of this album at all times. It's a very distant song; I listen to it with the most monotone of my facial expressions. The distance they create keeps this particular song very stoic and ominous.
The middle track is "Drag Me Down" and here is where the teenage anxiety and emo aspect really kicked into overdrive for me. The guitar here is more brash and reckless. There is a sense of languishing coming to the surface, scratching at one's current circumstances to escape them. There's less ambiance here and more of a focus on vocals and melody. The lyrics were easier to pick up and absorb in the song, and I really appreciated the words. It works very well and is my favorite track on the album.
Last on the menu is "Franklyn Street." This one is probably the most dreamy in the pack and also the most indie. Again the vocals and overall tone maintain their distance. Static and feedback make their triumphant return to the forefront and the heavy ambiance is not so much present here. This song brought in tiny slivers of light and sunshine in an otherwise very foggy album. It was a good closer that gave the group some range.
This album essentially took a little tour of Europe for its audio production. From southern Italy to Sicily and back again to England. I appreciate the group being committed to the distance and creative use of atmosphere. I think on the mixing and mastering ends there could have been a little more polish. Again I respect and understand that muffled, feedback driven vibe, but there's good lyrics in there I was struggling to dig and find.
This album is an exquisite soundtrack for solitude and deep thought. It's heavy. I could see teens and adults alike grinding out their toughest obstacles in their minds to music like this. I really like how you can almost hear the palette go from pitch black, to a slate like grey and then lighter still. It was a very organic and simplistic progression that makes the album worth listening to as a whole collection of work.
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