Sunset Graves ~ Dead Cities Hymnal

sunset-graves-dch-insert-booklet-front-cover-aSave Fabric!  This rallying cry was the starting point for the new album from Andy Fosberry (Sunset Graves), whose efforts helped to keep an exciting venue alive a few months back.  As this standout track begins, one hears the sounds of transit, an excited female voice in conversation, and then of course the beats ~ the raison d’être for such venues, echoing the pulse of the city.  Is it too much to read into the strings a longing for escape, an allure that is worth braving the cold, the subway, the curtains of night?  Mid-piece, these patterns change.  The tempo remains steady, but the beats grow angular, slipping from the rails.  This is where imagination sets in, a defiance of all things ordinary.  It’s where Sunset Graves is most comfortable, slipping out of synch.

Combine the wordless, yearning female vocal, the industrial beats and the stringed sensibility, and one garners a sense of the urban noir.  Dead City Hymnal presents music informed by the streets ~ but less by the people on the streets as the streets themselves, architecture crumbling on one block as shiny structures arise on another.  As much as the titles may reference relationships, the music produces a sense of objective removal, a tidying up after disasters personal and social.  Perhaps the best track title to illustrate this objectivity is “Passion and Dissonance”, the emotion balanced by competing thoughts, reflected in synthetic sounds that rub up against each other and come away bearing fragments of each other’s clothes.  Time and time again, Fosberry seems to approach warmth and back away, seeking and avoiding, reflecting a society that yearns to connect while retreating into comforting technological cocoons.  Even the beats sometimes approach and retreat, as in “Tin Snips”, pausing before diving back into the mix.

By the end of the hour, the artist seems to tire of the weight of unresolved challenges, urban and economic.  “Voices of the Aftermath” begins with what seems to be capitulation, the album’s first steady beat, lacking the energy to branch out.  But then, as if reconsidering, the percussion begins to sprout.  It’s as if Fosberry acknowledges the seemingly overwhelming nature of the world’s problems, nearly gives into temptation, but eventually gathers his strength for another round.  (Richard Allen)


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