Apparently Deardarkhead having been going since 1988 and have somehow totally passed me by until I was sent the band's latest album Strange Weather to review. How did that happen?
Oh well, let's start at the beginning It appears that this is a band who decided that after their original singer left it was better to not replace him and become an instrumental shoegaze band instead which is at least a novel approach as to how to deal with such a predicament.
This also means that to this listener the album's 6 tracks over 26 minutes becomes pretty much one suite of music; a kind of aural backwash that reminds me in places of one of the only other instrumental shoegaze bands that spring to mind which is Atlases. Only Deardarkhead seem to play a little bit quicker than the aforementioned combo and they also remind me in places of the instrumental passages that Amusement Parks On Fire often have in their songs.
The opening piece may be called Falling Upward but it feels to me like we are descending slowly down a long spiral staircase into a dark room in which all sorts of odd things might be happening. Like seeing the Sunshine Through The Rain, meanwhile, seems to have sped up an old Magic Hour tune and taken some of the acid drenching out of it almost like it's been rinsed in the rain. Is That A Nightmare, asks the next song. Well of course not, as Juxta Mare unfolds across the widescreen of the listeners mind enveloping them in the soundscape.
Then about halfway through March Hares they bring in the sort of repeating motif you might find on some of Band Of Susans' instrumentals. But either way this is an album of well-constructed sonic architecture and soundscapes of the sort that you sometimes hear in the closing five minutes or so of any number of American procedural TV series as they finally find out who did the murder on Cold Case or as the killer looks back on what might have been on CSI as if This is The Real Ice Age: a tune that owes a small debt to the Joy Division song it shares a name with but only a very small debt as this conjures up feelings of longing for what's been lost.
The Album closer Thinking Back seems perfect for driving late at night through a forest in the pouring rain hoping for some respite and that you won't have to drive much longer, but wherever it sends you, it's a fine finish to an intriguing album.
Find out more at Saint Marie Records online