Once upon a time, a vinyl release was taken for granted; now it’s a goal to which artists aspire. After numerous releases over the course of five years, Saåad has finally scored its first LP. We share in the duo’s joy, not only because we love records, but because the format once again seems to be the wave of the future rather than an artifact of the past.
On vinyl, the drones are deeper and the reverberations stronger. The thickness of Saåad’s music is given full opportunity to wash over the listener. The album title nods to the mood of the music, as well as the listening experience. Yet the track titles share a sense of sullen detachment: “Alone In The Light”, “Giant Mouth”, “I Will Always Disappoint You”, “After Love”. Imagine how The Bodyguard might have been different had its theme song been “I Will Always Disappoint You”. Such is the plot suggested here, an inversion of expectations.
The tracks bleed into each other, offering no break from the relentless oppression of the heart. Yet they are distinguishable by shades of blackness. “Alone In The Light” opens with metallic scrapings, reminiscent of Job’s pot sherds. Humming is evident, as if the protagonist has entered a place beyond words; but it swiftly dissipates, as if he has lost even the strength to hum. Dust motes seem to tumble in slow motion through the sonic light, reflected in physical fashion as the dust caught in grooves. By the opening minute of “Giant Mouth”, something seems to be crumbling: resolve, determination, courage? Or is someone poking through the rubble of a relationship, desperately looking for something to salvage?
It’s easy to view the last three Saåad albums we’ve reviewed as a triptych. Confluences is the album of the spirit, Orbs and Channels is the album of spiritual struggle, and Deep/Float is the album of spiritual loss. This is not the story we expect, yet it’s a common story, infrequently told. The disconnected ear wants a happy ending sticker, but we don’t get one. We’re supposed to say, “after love, everything is great! We pick ourselves up and try again ~ and that’s when we find our true love! In retrospect, our earlier suffering was a favor!” We might be better off hearing the truth: that despite our best efforts, sometimes love does not work out, and the loss echoes throughout our lives. Ironically, this truth is less damaging than the encouraging lie. The choral elements in the closing track provide an unusual coda: not the choir of consolation, but the choir of deep sorrow, singing the body to its eternal rest. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 17 April