Though without doubt music and its creators have been dealt a massive and devastating blow courtesy of the covid pandemic it has also inspired in certain quarters. It is fair to say that the new album from of1000faces is a moment of creativity which has been sparked by and flourished under the oppressive hold upon the world and in return crafts a captivation of reflection and dreamy beauty to enliven and reassure ears and imagination.
of1000faces is the solo project of Chicago-based Matt Walker, a renowned drummer who over the years has toured and recorded with the likes of Morrissey, Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage and Filter as well as created rich temptation in a myriad of independent bands and side projects and too through film and TV work. We were first introduced to this solo venture through the 2013 released Love Imperfect EP, an adventure which featured the likes of Chris Connelly (Ministry, Revolting Cocks) and Grammy award-winning jazz guitarist Wayne Johnson. Though a couple of rather potent singles have been seen since then, Walker has consistently worked away on his own compositions and sounds within his ever busy schedule. The Covid outbreak has given the time to explore further and provided the spark to new album Astronomica, a release which transports the listener to another place from this currently devoured world yet shares reflection on the here and now to embrace and rise up with.
Whereas of1000faces previously shared more art pop inspired exploits, Astronomica sees Walker immerse in ambience nurtured explorations, instrumentals and electronic atmospheres which court emotions and imagination with rich intimation, each also providing a canvas for self weaving. Part 1 of the Monomyyth Trilogy, the album embroils terrestrial bound loneliness, desperation and melancholy amongst other dark emotions in its compelling spatial radiance and it is the latter which envelops and leaves feeling afloat rather than darkly consumed and lost by the album’s end.
The darkest essences do envelop opener Below the Brine, well certainly breeds the solemn breath which initially sighs upon ears in melancholy thick reflection. As swiftly though a tingling of light breaks, warming the senses and embracing the shadows at the heart of the piece, its gentle immersion of thought and feelings continuing to beguile across a body which is a balance of dark and light and shimmers with volatility and magnetism.
The album’s title track follows and with similar calm soars across broader celestial skies; yet again though the more tenebrific essences of isolation are drawn upon even within its suggestion of an expansive landscape one soon looking back upon O Little Earth from a cosmic view. Looming ever closer there is a slightly claustrophobic breath to the track, one feasting on the view of home and its increasingly infectious features.
Both tracks revel in the suggestiveness and creative weaving Walker brings to the release, Cosmic Memories and its successor Trees Sway Metallic similarly revelling with individuality in his musically poetic and evocative craft. The first is like a merger of insular and expansive thoughts and layers, a seduction of crepuscular light and more intense trespasses contrasted by the luminescent skies of the second, its electronic sparkles like a shower of hope and inspiriting influence.
Gliding down the melodic stream of With the Tide and surfing the senses shaping oriental scented waves of Origami Ocean only provoked greater entwining of the imagination and feasting of ears before Laos entangled both in more dramatic and intense but just as enthralling enterprise as again darker touches and suggestiveness aligns to melodic and seductive beauty.
As the atmospheric caress of The Blue Hour hits the shores of beguilement, the mysterious and more than slightly sinister lure of Zephyr beckons, and Skye Song with its Arcadian romance embraces it is fair to say that ears and imagination slipped even deeper into the heart and intimation soaked depths of Astronomica leaving the closing Nachtgarten to hold the keenest attention with its secluded but again alluring solitude.
Astronomica will inspire different adventures in the imagination for different people but will take all on a journey of discovery, worldly and inner. It will also leave ears relishing inspiring craft and beauty, things we all need right now.
Astronomica is out now; available @ https://of1000faces.bandcamp.com/album/astronomica and other online stores.
Pete RingMaster 19/11/2020