DUSTED MAGAZINE :
With 2009’s The Crackle of My Soul, Gordon Sharp, the leader of Cindytalk, radically transformed the core sound of his music. Admittedly, it came 15 years after its predecessor, Wappinschaw, but the difference from what had been a full band’s post-punk mélange of industrial rock and goth was such that the two albums might as well have been separated by light years, even taking into account the fact that the early Cindytalk albums had only ever hovered on the fringes of traditional rock music. Perhaps the surest sign that this new direction would represent a dramatic shift came when one glanced at the new album’s home: experimental label Editions Mego, which has put out Sharp’s subsequent three albums.
Like Cindytalk’s three previous releases on Mego, A Life Is Everywhere is built around keenly balanced electronic drones and ambient textures, interjected with hints of more organic elements that underline even the coldest cuts with a profound humanity. Having stated that, it may be the noisiest release yet under the Cindytalk name, although Gordon Sharp is more subtle just about any actual noise artist. “Time to Fall” opens the album with arrhythmic bell jangles that are scattered across the stereophonics and quickly subsumed by righteous waves of bristly, atonal noise, crystalline saturated electronic drones that pressurize both the higher and lower registers in a manner not unlike Daniel Menche or Helm’s Luke Younger. The track heaves with repressed tension, as clean synth lines a la Tangerine Dream wrestle their way to the fore, unsettling the aura of brutality to create something more subtle and emotionally resonant. “Time to Fall” suggests the turmoil of the human mind, even the human experience, in an abstract way, and serves as a potent opening salvo for an album that never gives too much away whilst slaloming around a range of feelings and sounds.
“My Drift is a Ghost” is shorter and punchier than its eight-minute predecessor, dominated by shimmering electronic oscillations and waterfalls of white noise. Despite likely being produced on a laptop, there is an organic quality to Sharp’s music, and harks back to the use of field recordings and found sounds on his previous album, Hold Everything Dear. It’s clear there are similar sound sources onA Life Is Everywhere, notably the metallic clinks and shudders that help close “My Drift is a Ghost,” but they’re mixed more intricately into a mix that is often more dense and forbidding than anything I’ve previously heard from Cindytalk.
Where Hold Everything Dear seemed to deliver a heartfelt message of love and compassion (albeit abstractly), A Life Is Everywhere is pregnant with a sense of loss, and perhaps even death, as suggested by the track titles: “Time to Fall,” “My Drift is a Ghost,” “To a Dying Star,” “As If We Had Once Been,” etc. “To A Dying Star” collapses under the weight of what sounds like sampled gusts of wind and bubbling water, whilst “Interruptum” is introduced by mournful downwards-sliding string drones like something off Mohammad’s latest album on PAN (check it out) and bouts of silence, before train samples and ringing electronic notes conjure up imagery of deserted, neon-lit train platforms in the dead of night. “Interruptum” is the least loud track on the album, and also the most interesting, with reverberating drum pounds injecting a hint of dark ambient into Cindytalk’s carefully-constructed composition. It’s merely the calm before the storm, however, as the short “As If We Had Once Been” is driven by distorted industrial beats over gloomy synths to knock us out of our reveries.
Album closer “On A Pure Plain”’s title suggests some sort of spiritual escape from some of the darker haunts evoked by the rest of the album, but, whilst it is underpinned by a docile violin melody, the top-half of the track is dominated by distorted noises, perhaps sampled from home appliances but here overdriven into baleful abstraction. In many ways, A Life Is Everywhere is a schizophrenic creation, the quieter, often acoustic moments buffering against repeated onslaughts of brutal technological noise, as incongruous as a lone tree growing in a shopping mall parking lot and sandwiched between two SUVs. Perhaps the title says as much as the music contained in this evocative and intelligent album: it’s a slice of life viewed through the prism of a singular individual. And like life, it’s full of beautiful contradictions.
By Joseph Burnett
Photo by Spaewaif
Photo by Spaewaif