Another review request, this time from independent Ambient/Slowcore/Darkwave musician Marc Broude with Dead On Arrival.
As you can probably glean from the title, the cover art and the genres that Broude identifies with, you’d be surprised to find any upbeat or jovial music within this 40 minute release, and you’d be right for the most part. Dead On Arrival is a remarkably low key release that sets a rather sombre tone throughout; not depressing necessarily but far from upbeat. Opener “Heidi” is somewhat surprising in that regard then, since it actually emerges to some entrancing and droning synths followed gently by a very sobering set of dominant organ notes, all the while with Marc uttering the softest whispers of vocals almost lost in the encompassing emptiness before more ethereal and distorted guitars and trembling cymbals move in menacingly towards the end where it then terminates somewhat abruptly.
“Kindred Spirit” chases it up and once more the drones make themselves known as the track introduces itself to us, but they’re not lonely for long as gentle guitar quickly makes its way in to be accompanied by the barely decipherable vocals again. Wrapped in heady amounts of reverb and general low-fidelity fuzz their melancholy comes through strongly, not to mention the unavoidable sense of nostalgia that I always get with that kind of processing. The track moves along slowly and quietly, making ripples only on the emphasis of each chorus. The title track really does just come and go for me though, despite its 10 minute duration as the longest track of the album. It continues in the low key instrumental vibe, with a strong focus still on guitar and light percussion, but I just cant help but feel that too much of it is filler with just not enough variance, not enough crests and troughs to keep a good, progressive sound going. Admittedly the unexpected pulse of sound as the guitar kicks into overdrive in the final couple of minutes is really fantastic, with Marc’s pained and distal vocals topping it all off really well.
Then we have something of a come down with the rather depressingly titled “I Want To See You Happy But I Don’t Want To Die”, a track name I dont even want to consider the implications of, but a nice if rather sad piece with a focus on minimal piano instrumentation with thin drones occasionally piercing the fugue. The ending sits badly with me though, where it breaks into random electronic beats for the last 30 seconds; very unnecessary and a completely arbitrary decision from my standpoint. I see this is as something of the beginning of the end in my interest with this album personally, with “Imagine Yourself In A Forest” devolving into chaotic noise and harshly distorted field recordings before spending the 5 minutes sitting in a thin and distant blanket of weak drone, which then makes way for heavily processed guitar and brief synth melodies before ending its unfortunate experimental life.
I really thought this album showed promise near the beginning; it’s Slowcore, minimal instrumentation vibes with some nice light vocal textures sprinkled above were really lovingly produced, not to mention sad and intimate creations, but as time progressed the music became more chaotic, random, unstructured; it started to lose its emotional resonance and just seemed to be more interested in sonic experimentation. I like a bit of variety but I don’t enjoy how this album was put together, and personally would have opted not to have such an abrasive and pointlessly tangential latter half.
You can check out Marc’s music for yourselves (and then disagree with me) at his Bandcamp.