On the heels of Haeligewielle, Oliver Barrett has been releasing tracks one or two at a time, whetting the appetite for his next full-length as Petrels. This latest effort, a free Bandcamp download, contains “Talus Dice” (from last year’s Patient Sounds Sampler Volume 3), plus the all-new “Beyond the High Savannahs”. Barrett calls one track “summery” and the other “slightly less summery”, without indicating which is which; we’re going to go with the order as it stands.
While Haeligewielle wasn’t exactly club-oriented, one can find clear evidence that Barrett has been headed in that direction ever since. Not that he’s looking to be remixed; instead, he’s recording intelligent music with a steady beat. ”Talus Dice” offers so much more than the traditional club banger: intricacy, thickness, build, catharsis. The preamble features popcorn percussion reminiscent of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”, followed by glowing keyboard patterns and a sense of forward propulsion. An 80s-inflected synth melody carries the middle section. The final two minutes, in which distorted drones attack like commandos, remind the listener of Petrels’ ability to surprise.
“Beyond the High Savannahs” (slightly less summery!) begins with electronic pops and meanderings, mirroring the out-of-focus squares of the cover. The track grows in volume as it progresses, adding synthetic bass yet refusing to take form. If “Talus Dice” is the beach, this track is the haze. Together, the tracks tease by implication; if these are free, how much better can the next collection be? We’re ready when you are, Mr. Barrett. (Richard Allen)