SOTNMS in Postcards From The Yellow Room

It should come as no surprise that the music on Darkroom’s 8th album (released in 2008), has a decidedly cinematic quality. After all the band - Michael Bearpark on guitars and synth player Andrew Ostler - originally formed in 1990s to provide the live soundtrack to a film screening.

Consequently the album is deeply impressionistic in its textures and pacing, taking time to unwind and unfold. Whilst there’s a certain amount of abstract, glitchy corrosiveness scored across the album, Darkroom supply music that whilst being relatively static, is nevertheless richly warm and melodic.

The title track has an endearing brittle poppiness that recalls the amiable sunniness of some vintage kraut rock excursions, and the stately Mercury Shuffle recreates the slow blissful waves of guitar that could almost be outtakes from John Martyn’s sepulchral epic, Small Hours.

Bearpark will be known to some listeners as member of the live No-Man group and as such you’d expect from that kind of standard there’s a wonderful poise and attention to detail. Dreamy, aquatic-sounding Fender Rhodes, pulsating vaguely dub-like atmospherics, and sublimely stirring strings conjure up what might happen if Paul Schutze made an album with Michael Brook.

This is a varied and approachable set that caters for moments of introspective contemplation (lots of glissando-type guitar forlornly fading off into space) and more expressive moods and moments. It’s worth mentioning the drumming of Andrew Booker (also in the live No-Man band) whose whip-cracking snare work and fizzing cymbals on the groovesome Two Is Ambient (and elsewhere) brings both definition and a welcome velocity to the overall shape of things.

Sid Smith

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