Released: 9th January 2020
Label: Sound In Silence
Format: CD / DD
In Crystalline, worriedaboutsatan seamlessly blends traditional instrumentation with inorganic sound and noise to create a cohesive, yet subdued emotional landscape.
Aptly named opening track, ‘Open the Door,’ sets the tone for the record; presenting with a white noise deluge, which could just as easily be a field recording of rainfall, looped to promptly establish a rhythmic bed. Solemn guitar triads soon follow to complete the arrangement. As the static fades into the subconscious, the distant haunting calls of Sophie Green (ex Her Name is Calla) provide descant as the key progressively shifts from minor to major, symbolising a sense of hope which gradually swells to eradicate the established sense of unease.
‘Step Inside’ comes next with the distinctive Roland TR series deep kick and sharp snare, sparsely arranged, playing off nicely against shimmering guitars and an 80s string loop (which would sound out of place were it to have any less of an obviously MIDI sound). As the piece progresses and opens up in range, so comes the sense that all is not right beneath the surface. This, the longest piece on the album, at no point feels protracted but rather establishes a trance-like state through repetition and as elements fade, leaving only strings and a clicking rhythm, we’re left with the sense of ill at ease.
Only on the album’s title work ‘Crystalline’ is the sense of positivity uninterrupted, yet in a way which almost mocks the listener for finding a simple, pure joy, in this emotionally non-binary world. High-pitched strings dance like playful splashes over a driving bass as the piece builds to a conclusion before things can take a bitter turn.
‘Streetlights on Empty Roads’ brings us back from this Instagram sunrise, evoking an early hours drive through a perpetual and desolate urban landscape, rattling through shards of lamplight in pursuit of the saccharine sweetness of Crystalline’s early morning glow.
A timbral shift brings added depth on ‘Secretly’, which introduces a dark and sinister synth tone which wouldn’t be out of place in the work of S U R V I V E, until the guitar so characteristic of this album joins.
Bringing the record to a close, ‘Switching Off’ teases at a mesmerising perpetuity of looped warm vocal tones. Mirroring the form of the album, the listener’s hypnotic state is broken by a delay feedback loop which rapidly overwhelms the ethereal with a distorted pulse tone,bringing about an abrupt end to both any sense of serenity and the record itself.
Crystalline is a bleak, atmospheric work yet not without hope and in which moments of rich colour are offset against stark, distorted rhythm and percussion, which keep the listener subdued throughout worriedaboutsatan’s latest release.
worriedaboutsatan are label mates with Test Card. We reviewed their latest album here.