Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Douglas Firs

Haunting Through (Self-Released, 07.2010)

For: Julian Lynch, DM Stith, Neil Finn

Byline: Haunt Me, Do it Again Haunt Me.

Haunting Through, it certainly does. The Douglas Firs, the singular musical vision of Aberdeen Scotland's Neil Inish, is a fully engrossing, totally possessing 20 minutes full of auditory tricks, floorboard creaks, and a legion of musical voices whose locations are impossible to pin down. Finding an entrance point into Inish's dense compositions is a tough task; tracks flow from traditional folk songs bursting with accordions, gang vocal sing-alongs, barroom piano, and a general townhall tavern looseness on "The Quickening". To the electronic tinged, saxophone inflected, "Grow Old and Go Home", to the ambient "Future State". Inish underpins "Soporific" with a humming drone and a host of acoustic and electronic instrumentation. Haunting Through is not a record of some ego-maniacal genre-hopping showoff. Inish's compositions, even when moving through the most dispirate of genres, are held together by a sense of spatial awayness. Haunting Through is an album mostly made up of sounds that range from organic field recordings to crowded barrooms, to bedroom drone and tape experiments. It is easy to imagine Inish standing outside of these moments, either being puzzled by a sense of false-camaraderie or totally entranced by nature. Either way Inish stands beside the listener, gazing in at his own piece trying to infer meaning. When Inish takes control of his songs he uses his commanding (and often multi-tracked) voice, which often floats in and out of the compositions like a ghost, like a lynchpin to tie everything together. These feel like undeserved moments of beauty, even if Inish remained aloof from his tracks, Haunting Through would largely glide by on its own merits. When Inish steps in, however, he proves to be a commanding band leader, even if the only musicians in his employ are himself and his huge ideas.

Ryan H.

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