Anthéne – Weightless (Home Normal, 2019)

When you reach the peak of a parabola, there is an instant of micro-gravity, of weightlessness. Right at the height of the arc, just before the swing into the downward plunge, you’re in suspension in a period of freefall. Mirrored on both sides by a long uphill struggle on the one hand and a steep decline on the other, this brief window of crest-breaking calm is a joyous reprieve. Much like scaling a difficult mountain, the fight to the top for that sweeping vision is made worthwhile in that quietly euphoric moment, a temporary disconnection from the woes of the world.

Here, Brad is caught in the window before the birth of his daughter, she in her own neutral-buoyancy, weightless, amniotic world. Time almost seems to freeze during this period of strange elation and anticipation and vague anxiety, counting down the days til the arc rounds over and her gravity arrives. “Hours” hums in brooding tones, the drone lines just barely rumbling in introspection, blistered rain sizzling in the background with light noir drama. Opening “Tethers” has a somewhat darkling vibe also, with thin strands of dusty energy pinned to a faint and ethereal sense of melancholia, Brad’s hopes and fears already attached to her like an umbilical.

Even impossibly elegant mid-album beauty “Coat of Arms” is bathed in some bittersweet light, its gorgeous drone pulsations wavering delicately on the cusp of sadness in curious pitch shifts. Bright rays run through its uncertain heart like fingers through hair, glowing caresses that generate a bassy static to soothe a burdened mind.

Mostly though this all too brief record is a glowing mass of all too luxurious serenity, soaking in the feeling of strange calm that precedes the birth. “Wind Catcher” finds itself lost in rarified airs, detached from its corporeal self as it floats on smoothed vistas and crooning, bent guitar strings. Life is just a blur in the equally painterly swells of lush “Silver Screen”, quaint pastoral happiness dripping out of guitar pickings lost to gauzy reverb and smeared tidal chords that echo through the chambers of the heart. It’s as though we are outside looking in, a growing sense of pride and pleasure at the idyllic scenes of our own life flickering by.

Come, join Brad on his journey through micro-gravity; let’s hope it lasts.