(March 2010) Some music adds a certain calm and warmth to the moment, stripping away life’s complications. For me, the music of artist The Sight Below does just that. Lately when I lack direction and focus, I gravitate to The Sight Below’s It All Falls Apart. Counter to what the title suggests, it is a very grounding listen. Several times I have found myself six tracks into the album singing along to a beautiful Joy Division cover, feeling collected, wondering where the time went.
The album opens with “Shimmer,” an immersive track full of waves of complex emotion and stuttering chirps, reminiscent of Lexunculpt’s The Blurring of Trees. The dense, strangely colorful song only grows better the louder it is played – and I do recommend playing it loud. After a too-short six minutes, the thick mesh of ambiguous noises is shed to reveal a soft, organic, accordion-like sound that quickly slips away. “Fervent” fades in, bringing with it windblown climes, distant fluttering cloth and soft, Slowdive-like guitars, all greatly obscuring a very submerged, distant (and perhaps imagined) beat.
Twelve minutes in to the album the first prominent beat arrives. While relatively fast and heavy, the beat rests nicely on a bed of gentle feedback and a warm, fire-like crackle, blurring together with submerged, ecstatic melody. Here, The Sight Below presents a mood I crave after many long techno-centric evenings, when I need to give my over-stimulated brain some room to think, gather, and reflect.
After two tracks of dance-friendly music, the title track slips back to an ambient, slowly-moving, cold mass, growing as if it is gathering distant sounds as it drifts along, pushing them to the foreground, resulting in one of the more intense moments of the album.
Despite the drone-like aesthetic of It All Falls Apart, it still maintains a beautiful and comforting, though often buried, optimism. I feel a particular appreciation for this because, as with The Sight Below, Seattle is my home. It is often hard to explain the lush beauty of the region to friends and family who often speak of its gray days. This music captures some of that feeling, especially in the closing song “Stagger,” with the final moments reminding me of the sobering arrival of spring.
It All Falls Apart is perfect both for quiet, background listening as well as loud, attentive listening. I appreciate that when listening; I can feel the post punk, shoegaze, and techno influence buried in the din. The only complaint I have is that the album may be too short — or, perhaps the attention grabbing cover of New Dawn Fades with its “change of speed” and “change of style” may appear just a few minutes too early.
It All Falls Apart is out now on Ghostly. [Listen & Purchase]