Movies Before Bed – Shmaxi (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

The quirky and cooly odd (or perhaps oddly cool) cover might hint at some sort of alt-pop explosion or indie-infused anthemics treating your ears but what lies within is something altogether more original and satisfying. Ambient, filmic, cinematic, experimental, understated and deft are all words that sum up what is happening here but even those might not quite capture the quiet majesty of the album.

Tracks such as Lost Footage seem to mix beauty with terror, the music washing between shimmering minimalism and epic, hazy soundscaping. If there was such a thing as noisy ambient music, this would qualify. Main Menu offers a short blast of gorgeous, almost Vangelisian otherworldliness, followed by the longer Something Reel, which at six and a half minutes has time to grow and growl, sparkle and shine, howl and drone. Though it never seems to do so in obvious ways and again it is the language which lets me down when trying to capture the uniqueness of this collection of music.

Special Features is a two-parter, laced through with some spoken word and again a song that holds back from more obvious sonic pay-offs and the whole thing ends with Kindly Rewind…you see the titular connection yet?… a shimmering, shifting and ultimately satisfying way of putting the album to bed, if you’ll excuse me throwing in my own pun and word-play.

Shmaxi wrote, recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered this music in his bedroom but as an album, concept, recording and creation, it is about as far away from what you would usually expect from anything labelled “bedroom music” as you could get. And, if this is what he can produce when left to his own devices, imagine what he could do with a bit of industry support and financial backing.

Wouldn’t that be something?

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