The latest release on the fledgling Cue Dot Records label finds Steve Kelly aka Manfred Hamil in a reflective yet optimistic mood.
Release Date: 29th January 2021
Label: Cue Dot Records
Format: CD / DL
The last twelve months have been…well you were there…and it was with a creeping inevitability that we would start to see artists who work in in the ambient and electronica field release their projects either inspired by or created during the pandemic and this writer was dreading it. A slew of “Now That’s What I Call Ambient Lockdown Woe” releases is not what the world needs right now (or is it?) so when I was presented with the latest release from the great new up and coming label Cue Dot Records I approached with much caution. Was I ready for it? Was this going to be a release that was smothered in the doom mood? Press play find out….
Everything Fades isn’t afraid of making its intentions clear. They are there from the albums opener Asphyxiated which gently leads us in to a place of serenity before the pulse of a kickdrum and the lone vocal demanding we “breathe” (one of the few vocals on the album and one which, in a time of police strangulation and a virus that attacks the respiratory system, is very moving and powerful) floats in. What is important about this song is not only its quality but its overall mood as it manages to balance a reflective glance with desire to move forward and this is what the entire album seems to represent sonically, that sense of what has been and what is to come.
Throughout Everything Fades Manfred tips his cap to a myriad of different genres and sub genres with the nocturnal dub of Before It Goes Down and the electro of album highlight Electro Thing taking through the various rooms basement clubs making the album a true hymn to club culture and that is its central theme. Here is an album that not only laments the loss of an industry that was already struggling and one which has been decimated thanks to the lack of support from the Government and the pandemic itself but also celebrates it. So whilst there are moments of ambient reflection (Forgotten What I Came In For, Hope, It’s Not A Drug It’s A Drink…which has to be the best quote from Brass Eye you’ve seen on an album in a long time) there are also moments that perfectly capture the sounds and sensations of music bleeding through walls onto the street or venturing in to the third room in a club where all the real magic happens . Songs like Kieron’s Heart and Before It Goes Down are in the romantic vein of artists such as Four Tet or Jon Hopkins whilst others like Defect Analysis and Gradual Falling From A Better State dip into the murkier edges of electronic music.
Everything Fades jumps about like an exploring clubber yet what could have been disjointed or frankly messy is instead a complete cohesive album which is sequenced perfectly so there is never a moment where the switch in styles jars or feels forced. Everything feels like it is where it should be and the whole thing is wonderfully paced allowing for many emotional ebbs and flows. Manfred Hamil never once slips into a mawkish sentimentality or tries any cheap tricks to pull at heart strings instead what you hear is the work of someone who loves what they do, the world in which it exists and the differences that are allowed to coexist within its loose framework. Everything Fades allows enough space for the listener to paint their own images whilst gently pulling you along. It is a hymn and a celebration for a scene that needs us now more than ever.
A gorgeous album and one which asks the right questions at the exact right time. Turns out in the right hands music of this nature isn’t anything to dread but instead it is one to embrace. A vital release.Everything Fades by Manfred Hamil