Thursday 7 February 2013

Darkstar - News From Nowhere

‘News From Nowhere’, the second album from Darkstar, is the sort of album that easily falls under the radar.  Far from the mainstream and lacking in immediacy, for the most part this is an abstruse record that takes time to sink in – but are the results worth it?

In a step away from the obviously dance influenced debut ‘North’, ‘News From Nowhere’ is a wash of electronic minimalism.  Initially, like clutching a pool of water, the music shimmers and glistens but slips through the fingers.  For some this will be a turn off, but for others more inclined to a challenge, this will demand repeated listening.

That’s not to say there aren’t stand out tracks.  Timeaway is a beautiful piece of ethereal electronica, softly blooming into clouds of synth pads and arpeggiated droplets from which emerges a ghostly vocal.  The track has immediate appeal in its own right, despite being previously released as the album’s lead single.  Amplified Ease features a repeated vocal hook that’s an obvious earworm, whilst subsequent track You Don’t Need A Weatherman focuses on a cyclical descending bassline that provides a secure grounding, atop which the production gradually and atmospherically evolves.  As a whole, the tracks eschew typical pop structures for something more experimental.

Yet this is where the album falls short.  Beneath the layers of clever technique, the spectral hazes of electronica, the songwriting is a little lacking – particularly around the mid-point of the album.  Working within such minimal frameworks, the tracks fade into the background and fail to grab the listener’s attention.  Final track Hold Me Down is a prime example of this.  At its best, this is a mesmeric, hypnotic and pensieve record, but elsewhere, as penultimate track Bed Music – North View implies, this is music to drift away to.


Gizzle’s Choice
* Timeaway
* Amplified Ease
* You Don’t Need A Weatherman

Listen: 'News From Nowhere' is available now.