Boomkat Product Review:
Amos Childs' do you have peace? imprint assembles a global family of like-minded eccentrics on 'Always + Forever', haunting dream pop structures with filigree traces of dub and ambience. Stunning material, featuring exclusive, unreleased tracks from Time Cow, Jonnine, Vessel, Teresa Winter, YL Hooi, Guest, Static Cleaner Lost Reward, Hermeneia, Zaumne, Birthmark, Silzedrek, Laughter of Saints, Vessel & Rakhi Singh.
''Always + Forever' began as a way for Childs to highlight the connective tissue between a varied group of artists who appeared to be operating on a similar wavelength. You've probably noticed this trend already: the kind of spectral hypnagogic gear we've been served from outsiders like HTRK, YL Hooi, Teresa Winter and, of course, Jabu. As the project developed, its scope widened, and the resulting collection swings in more diverse musical shrapnel strafing dub, ambient, noise and industrial sounds.
Equinoxx's Jordan "Time Cow" Chung starts things off with the fantastical 'Hey There Fat Fingers', swerving from the rhythmic rattle of his best-known gear and looping in orchestral sweeps into a delectable slice of fairytale ambience. It runs immaculately into Guest's harp-laced 'Heavy Knot', a vocal-led lilter that begins to distill the compilation's themes, balancing softly-spoken pop with fanciful plunderphonics and bone-dry thuds. This isn't the only track from Jabu's Jasmine Butt; she also teams up with producer, DJ and vocalist Birthmark on 'Freeze in the Aisle', adding languid, breathy vocals to her collaborator's cosmic oscillator warbles and Childs' own spacious bass plucks.
Naarm fully represents too, HTRK's Jonnine is first to the plate with the effervescent 'As You Sleep By My Feet', a track that effortlessly shows the Aussie scene's potency right now, animating its dubwise slump with naïve flutes and a bossa sway. Scene instigator Tarquin Manek shows up under the Static Cleaner Lost Reward guise with the charming 'Sweet Paradise', a junky no-fi miniature that perfectly underlines the recent 'Breathing Under Honey' full-length, and the forever on-point YL Hooi slips into the aether on 'Glitch Clarry Ditty', drowning seductive vocals in an oily pool of granulated pads.
Elsewhere, Teresa Winter tries on a new outfit with 'Juniper', evoking the drum machine-led early (gothy) Cocteaus run and cooing through a barrage of thick, reverberating beats and crackling synths. Polish sound artist Mateusz Olszewski, aka Zaumne, caps off a vintage year with 'In the Soil', a blissed-out collaboration with vocalist Hermeneia that's one of the comp's low-key highlights, sounding like a modern approximation of trip-hop that avoids the usual aesthetic markers.
The mysterious Laughter of Saints run us down the left hand path with two very different tracks: 'Shards' and 'The Motif'. The former is a garbled, DIY folk auto-fiction, and the latter a cottage-dubbed improvisation on piano and fiddle scrapes through the scene's murkiest crevices. Seb Gainsborough, aka Vessel, provides two tracks that conclude the comp, rubberizing orchestral elements on 'Sleepless' and going full melodrama on the lushly arranged 'It Can't Be Helped (There Is Nothing In The Sky)', a collaboration with Rakhi Singh.
Despite its range, 'Always + Forever' is a tight and, most importantly, memorable record that tracks an ephemeral scene that tugs at the space in-between.