Dream-shrouded post-rock that fluidly melts into stretches of glassy ambient, Dead Melodies’ Subtle Imperfections is a laid-back set of songs surrounded in lush sonic atmospheres. Lead by Tom Moore’s acoustic guitar on most tracks and featuring vocal contributions from singer Oneira, this album can be as deeply explorable as you like, or you can just let it wash over you. Both, I find, are equally enjoyable. I did have to check whether the Bluetooth connection to my speaker had gone bad during the heavy distortion at the start of “For A Wonder,” but as the piece smoothed out and Oneira’s wispy, half-awake voice sung softly to me, I understood–sound is going to get played with here. Moore uses Oneira’s voice throughout in various mutations. It’s heavily echoed and stretched thin as wind on the drone-based “Hidden Seeken.” It coos from a light distance on “It’s Too Late.” It slithers out with Björk-like phrasing against the viscous, bass-heavy movement of “Indigo Requiem.” While the voice is a consistently compelling element here, it’s Moore’s elegant, foggy, droning atmospheres that do the heavy lifting and pull us easily along. And the details run deep. “Lakes” offers strong string pads, delicately placed micro-sounds, field recordings, and more of Oneira’s manipulated voice, heavy on the reverse echo. Piano fronts “Glimmer in the Darkness,” its echoed lines set against rolls of thunder, night sounds, and distant voices. Moore lays down the piece’s main phrase, lets it fade to the background, and brings up the atmospherics–then does it again. Listen closely and it seems you can still hear the sustain of the piano’s lowest notes like a soft hum.
Subtle Imperfections is a fantastic listen, its eight songs (seven and a reprise of the opener) built on tight lattices of well-chosen sounds and impeccably handled effects. Oneira’s vocals, as noted, are used perfectly any way Moore decides to apply them. They add to the album’s out-of-body feel and ghostly landscapes. Go grab this now and set it looping.
Available from Sparkwood Records.