It’s the end of July, and with summer solstice, new music introduces sense and perspective into the shoddy status quo. Darkside’s double LP is titled Spiral, and it offers an adequate kind of hermeneutic concentration emerging from one of the more sensible alternative universes. It is one of Darkside’s making: thick, slow and sludgy, swaying at its own pace, like foliage by some green lagoon. It is filled with wonder, and its deliberate pace belies the rapid sucession of ideas, diversity and freedom it offers.
This universe, I would like to inhabit. I have been trying to make Spiral drench and overwhelm me completely. I listen to it on all channels and many devices, analogue and digital, hi-fi and lo-fi. I listen to it as the sun paints graphic shapes across my linoleum desktop, I listen to it from the nighttime vantage point of a red London bus. I listen to it as atlantic waves crash into volcanic rock. I listen to it writing code, and I listen to it making my way home in the nights of Westberlin.
Simply said, this is eternal pop music, pop from a different continuum of pop, a different timeline: Music that seems familiar, but is unheard. Both the record as a whole and its nine individual tracks vibe restrained and easy at once, as if enormous energy was contained and held by an intricate weave of arcane forces.
Consider Liberty Bell, the LP’s apparent hit: It fades in fully formed, like a mysteriously upbeat freight train. Upon closer inspection, it evaporates into delicate weightlessness. All this seems to emerge from a single riff progression? There is one verse and one hook before everything disperses into the bridge, and further into nothing? Free and easy and gone, like a moment’s sun ray you noticed and enjoyed.
Consider Lawmaker, which feels like a spiritual from a different 1974. Like a radio reportage, the track takes us towards its moment of revelation. It arrives, and we stare into an imagined sun – but the feeling of elation is real. We are mere observers to the charlatan’s ploy, yet we find ourselves under his spell. It lets us believe that, for a brief moment, the summer could be real.
Compared to Darside’s first record1, the increased presence of David Harrinton’s steely guitar is a welcome source of organic diffusion and complexity, a mycelium growing in the rich soil of the Darkside groove. It is also responsible for the record’s most beautiful, life-giving moment: Only Young, a ballad, a veritable crooner hymn in full recognition of the fact that, sometimes, it’s all-important to say the words in the right way. Here is a triumph of presence and depth, green-eyed Soul Music, if such a thing exists in any imaginable allegorical universe.
Apollo says return to the sun
Apologies you’re on your own
- Darkside – Spiral, 2×LP, Matador, 2021
Psychic ist ein Album voller programmierter Grooves, so langsam und nachdrücklich als bewege sich Leviathan in karibischem Wasser um die eigene Achse– seven years between 2014 and 2021 somehow is the same span of time as between 1974 and 1981, which seems irresponsible. ↩