The grey sky is drizzling down on the towering buildings below. You exit the city and start walking across a massive bridge, so massive that you can’t see the other side or to where it leads. You walk for a long time before voices begin clouding your mind: “I wish I could have followed that, but I haven’t,” “I don’t think I’d like to leave,” “My friendship group, my family. I do think there’s future here.” The words hang in your mind, and you turn around . . .
An attachment to a cherished place and a willingness to infuse the cultural influences of said place into music can greatly enhance the significance of the sounds created, because it anchors the abstract in something tangible. Foam Island is the newest full-length from Darkstar, made up of Aidan Whalley and James Young. The duo hail from the North of England, which happens to be the locational muse for this stunning record.
Whalley and Young traveled to Huddersfield, and absorbed the perspectives and stories told by the residents. Samples of these local monologues form the skeleton of this album, and bookend the dreamy experimental pop songs with intimately melancholic testimonies. The record plays like a call-and-response between the the voices of the town, and the voices of Darkstar, creating a dynamic, multi-layered environment.
The production is ornate, and the duo utilize a minimalist approach while maintaining an atmosphere of lush beauty. The tracks are a smidgen reminiscent of the icy, entrancing compositions of James Blake, and the ethereally rhythmic instrumentation is in a similar vein as Brian Eno or Radiohead, but Foam Island is a wholly unique work of art. If you’re seeking lush, melancholic electronic pop, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)