As a writer, I’ve always been a proponent of putting away a finished piece of work for a stretch of time, then coming back to reconsider it when its freshness has left my mind. (As artists, we are typically too close to our newest children to have any kind of unbiased view.) To some degree, Andrew Howie has done that with Scars Are Like A Beacon. The sources for the seven tracks here come from the release before it, The Great Divide. I will take him at his word that this “bears no sonic resemblance to its source material,” because rather than compare I’d sooner just jump into his languid, endlessly stretching lines, packed in places with a distorted, over-amped edge and a near-constant undercurrent of somewhat sad melody. He can float out a wavering ambient line as he does on the gentle “Tremble,” and then grace it with the simple concrete sound of slow guitar notes. He can build the kind of hissing, solid, sonic wall that rises in “Disarm.” Howie pings me here by infusing the structure with a hint of my much-loved pipe organ sound, that touch of sacred music some of us can’t help but resonate to. He can lay in the thumping beat of “Beacon,” cut through with razor-edge guitar notes to skirt the border of post-rock territory as it glistens past. And he can thread a beautiful acoustic guitar song like “Found” with streams and currents of lightly buzzing electronics and rising string tones in a melancholic blend that truly tugs at the soul. Did I mention that he does this all in 37 minutes, makes it feel like a pleasantly longer listening time, and makes it all absolutely stick with you?
For a short listen, Scars Are Like A Beacon has a lot of impact, and a good amount to say. Howie his repurposed his initial inspirations into tracks that beg a deep listen. No small sound is wasted, and the flow between passive and active pieces is perfectly managed. A solid release I’ll be coming back to often.
Available at Bandcamp.