18 Feb 2020
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The Impending Adorations - Album Review: Alliances 1: A Handful Of Dust

26 Oct 2019 // A review by Mike Alexander

Just a month after delivering the latest The Impending Adorations album, Allies, Paul McLaney announced, via Facebook, “a big day in music” with the release of the single Loose Ends by Her Own Medicine, a band of which he is a member, and the EP Alliances 1: A Handful Of Dust, a collaboration with Jakob guitarist Jeff Boyle.

The Alliances EP is a game-changer in so far as it is a welcome return to recording for Boyle (he’s apparently working on another Jakob album) and suggests that McLaney will also be working with kindred souls on other collaborations.

It takes its title from the opening track, a gently droning, yet strangely melodic, landscape, that’s barren on the surface and yet rich and vibrant to its core with Boyle fleshing it out with ghostly notes and textures.

The first of three tracks with vocals, Tell You Something, does and doesn’t. It opens with a steady rhythmic pulse, accentuated by what sounds like a xylophone being hammered (or it could be an electronically produced effect), and a vocal that’s almost ruefully confessional “the next time that I see you, I won’t be scared to tell you all the things I feel“. Boyle’s liquid guitar lines are beautifully balanced in the mix – not too predominant and not too understated.

He comes to the fore on Chaos I Surrender, another exploration in self-examination, which could be interpreted as both personal and universal, with a scorched earth guitar sound that’s subtle, beautifully toned and billows and echoes with a gentle intensity.

The illuminating hot spot is the final track Ihumatao, which is a deeply atmospheric soundscape that’s both a visceral and empathetic comment on the disputed land near Auckland airport that’s “owned” by Fletcher Challenge, who want to build a block of residential apartments, that local and disenfranchised iwi argue is not in keeping with the historical and cultural significance of the location to them

There’s no histrionics about the way McLaney expresses his point of view - “it’s plain to see the truth is obvious and you know it …. “the first wrong undone fixes all the wrongs that follow. This is the moment of truth” Where he is most persuasive though is in the way he colours it’s meaning and intent. Ihumatao broods, with heavy reverberating bass lines and McLaney’s poignant vocal before blossoming into a quiet thunderstorm of earthy rhythms, eerie guitar lines and ethereal electronic orchestrations. You think it’s going to eventually explode but it retains a layer of tension throughout that cuts a much deeper furrow.

When the dust is left to settle, you’re parched - thirsty for more, not just from McLaney and his next choice of collaborator but also as to where Boyle might ascend on Jakob’s ladder.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

Releases

Allies
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Threshold
Year: 2015
Type: EP
Spectator
Year: 2015
Type: EP
Further
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Intentions
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Gestalt
Year: 2012
Type: EP
Broken Science
Year: 2011
Type: EP

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