The Hollow Down by the Flare is the first release by the London dreampop duo Burnt Pixels. The album was released independently in March 2017.
The duo have been playing together for around twenty years, after having spent some time within a four-piece band which they described as being a “sisyphean” experience. The album is a dazy and peaceful examination of life. The vocals are soaked with reverb and delay, while the effect-heavy electric guitars fill all of the spaces between. It sounds like a cross between My Bloody Valentine, DIIV and (at times) Sonic Youth.
They said that this is not a concept album, but if it had an underlying concept, it would be about rediscovering a love for art after losing faith.The album cover shows a vibrant image of plants and a blue sky covering a plain loose-leaf paper, perhaps symbolizing the reintroduction of art into a dull life without it.
“New Colour” is a good representation of this sentiment as well. Mellowing guitars complement subtle background drumming that give just the right amount of sound to the track. The song leads the listener to explore what it means to be a shade. Colors are more than just visual aspects of life. They can represent feeling and existence. “The new colour I came to decide / Was each one side-by-side,” could mean that life is made up of all colors, for each one wouldn’t be distinct without the others to show contrast.
“Between The Devil and a Rock” sounds like a psychedelic Foo Fighters song from the ‘90s. The guitar tone is really crisp and pleasing to the ear. There’s a recurring tremolo sound that brings this track together, and that you can also find on, “New Colour.” I mistook the sound for a shaker at first because of how it’s slightly static in tone. It brings to mind a brushing noise that provides the song with more shoegazing depth.
Some moments on this record are slightly chaotic with ambient sounds coming from every direction, while other occasions are sitting-under-a-night-sky serene.
The tracks I enjoyed more were the less vocal effect-heavy. I found songs more interesting when the lyrics were easier to decipher. The chorus on “A Lie To Tell The Truth” features a female vocalist accompanying the lead, which gives the song a warmer feel. The final 30 seconds of that track features a hauntingly reverberated voice that robotically riffs-off random numbers over a thumping drum and a synth noise that literally sounds like burnt pixels. It’s an odd moment on the record, but by far, one of the coolest.
Fans of any shoegaze group will enjoy this one. The chemistry between this London duo is evident on this album. Hopefully we will be hearing more from Burnt Pixels in the future to follow-up this enticing release.
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