Slowness make music which seems less about presenting songs to the listener and more about cocooning them in smooth and sultry swathes of drifting textures. This isn’t so much music to be listened to at all, but rather to be experienced, something to surrender too and just let it wash over you rather than trying to follow the groove, the lyrical meaning, the rhyme or the reason. And slow it is, there is an obvious clue in the bands chosen moniker, but slow in that it is purposeful, meticulous and measured rather than louche and lazy.
Berths and the band in general have an obvious connection to the shoe gaze innovators of the past, Slowdive, Ride, My Bloody Valentine all spring to mind but it is also laced with shimmering psychedelia and often drives on a slow and staccato, Kosmische infused engine.
The focal point of the album and forthcoming single is the majestic Berlin, even the name is bathed in history and pathos and the song acted as a focusing of thoughts for the band members, particularly highlighting the sharp contrast “between the warmth and collectivism we felt in Europe and the individualistic and aggressive elements we felt upon returning to the USA.” It also acted as a stark reminder that many of the values and ethics being re-evaluated and brought out of the shadows in their home country today are the same ones that pushed Europe over the brink and into war not to long ago.
But for all the serious intent at the heart of the music, it is also shimmering and beautiful, graceful and ethereal. Breathe plays with dramatic beats and crashing sonics, Sand & Stone is built on banks of chiming textures which fold around each other, ever-shifting, lucid and languid and Rose is a collection of psychedelic haze locked on to liquid bass lines and spacious beats.
Berths is shoegaze taken to its most wonderfully unhurried conclusion, dream-pop at its most ellusive, post-punk nostalgia recut for a new audience. But rather than its lack of urgency seeing it float off into formlessness and overtly ambient drifts, it instead reveals even more gorgeousness and atmospheric charm collecting in the spaces between the more solid instrumentation. There is a lot to be said for opening up the cracks and letting the light get in.