This is the sort of album that makes my day better. I often spend my days trying to find something new to say about indie bands who are still trying to sound like Arctic Monkeys and rockers enthralled with the classic rocks past rather than the future of the genre, autotuned rappers, run-of-the-mill popsters and skinny-jeaned, gap year troubadours attempting to change the world via cliched poeticism and a working knowledge of A minor! In short, the same old, same old.
the fool by setstill, whose anarchic approach to capitalisation is already playing havoc with my grammar checker, is anything but the same old anything. These are the moments that make my job enjoyable. The best music brings out the most interesting and satisfying writing. And when I say the best music, I mean the most adventurous, experimental, unique and least bound by fad, fashion, tradition or expectation.
Based, titularly at least, around some of the cards of the Major Arcana of the Tarot deck, the fool is a series of electronic soundscapes which act as the vehicle for all manner of other musical inventions, downbeat vibes, rap inclusions, ambient expression, chilled dance and tangental sound experiments.
judgement (yes, grammar-checker, I know, but it isn’t my fault) kicks us off, setting a tone for electronic washes and strange sounds shooting through the middle ground whilst beguiling vocals dance across the top. And as a core reference point, that sonic backdrop acts as the canvas upon which setstill (just gimme a break grammar checker) paint their sonic hues.
moon (I know, I know) is hazy and ambient, all floating resonances and shimmering sonic haze feeling, eschewing the boring verse-chorus balance and seeming to blend the two into a sort of atonal, prose piece. There is a hypnotic catch to its stalwart refusal to play with dynamics too much. The resulting piece seems solid and airy, resolute and fragile.
hierophant (arrgghhh!)is beguiling and changeable, switching from the trademark drift to encompass WOOTZAbility’s incendiary and dexterous rap interludes. empress (come on, grammar checker, can we make a deal?) is built on more solid grooves and sure beats, feeling at times like an island in a sonic sea. A place where the creator has planted a firmer footing and a song which wanders into the chilled, after-hours playlist of the most discerning of nightclubs.
lovers (make it stop) rounds things off with an old-school piano ballad, at least initially, and one laced with social commentary, joyous thanks and a celebration of the things that really matter in life. It’s a beautiful slow burner that, through salvos of bluesy guitars, banjo jauntiness (I think), additional beats and heavenly harmonies, plays out via some anthemic territory.
the fool (deletes grammar check service)) is a glorious experience. On the surface just another ambient electronic outpouring, but in reality a much more exciting affair, with every track exploring potential and possibility, pushing boundaries and hopping genres. Fun to write about and a fantastic listening experience.