Subtle – Hallows  (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

I’m not quite sure how it happened but I seem to get sent a strangely disproportionate amount of music with a Minneapolis connection come my way. I say disproportionate because I write from a small room in a medium sized railway town an ocean away. Not that geography or distance is really a factor in this digital age but it is interesting how things work out. Perhaps there are just so many great bands making music there, or in the case of Hallows, which have at least conceived there, it all has to end up somewhere, so why not with people like me? Or perhaps that great city and my own more modest home base are on some strange sort of post-punk ley line. It could be that the Gods of Music are just messing about with me. Who knows?

However it finds its way to me Subtle sounds, at least in part, like my youth, that part of my formative years when I was hanging around underground night clubs cocooning myself in a swirl of music which was, in hindsight, called goth or dark wave, alt-rock or post-punk. To us it was just cool music. Subtle contains elements of all of those things plus a whole swath of doom-ladened electronica, brooding synths and clinical beats. It has that same cold hearted sound of those early 80’s pioneers, the same dystopian sonic cry for help, a soundtrack for urban decay and the inherent anxiety of people swallowed up by the city.

Such dark music has always looked to the future for its inspiration and tried to capture something of the rotting heart of city life. The fact that two generations on since those disenfranchised punks first rewired broken keyboards and spliced tape recordings together as a way of opening doors to a new way of making music, such music still feels relevant and appealing, that it is still able to capture something of the melancholy and angst of mankind’s direction of travel shows exactly why such music is as popular as ever.

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