All Over Again, All Over Again
28 February 2015
If electronic music is a faith, and since its inception it certainly has been for many, it’s one that more and more are losing belief in. The vision of the artists (or gods, perhaps) once at the forefront of the musical avant-garde like Oldfield and Eno have been betrayed by identikit dance tracks, a host of genres limited to rigid BPMs, and structures which stake it all on yet another bass-heavy drop. And whilst it’d be a generalisation to say electronic music has failed to deliver its promise in the face of contrary evidence – see the explorations of Aphex Twin or the witty pastiche favoured by vaporwave artists – it would be fair to say that electronic music is no longer the fiercely progressive beast it once was.
Enter bands like Exeter and Bath based Delmer Darion, part of the growing host of musicians putting the buzz back into electronic music. Following in the footsteps of artists like BADBADNOTGOOD and XXYYXX, Delmer Darion mix and match the usual setup of indie and alternative bands with all the possibilities afforded by electronic instruments and studio software to create music which is by turns explorative, brimming with feeling and ambient. One only has to listen to second track and single from “All Over Again, All Over Again”, “Paris Street (ft. Emily Burns), with a good pair of headphones to get a sense of what Delmer Darion are trying to do. And they do it well. Vinyl fuzz underscores a track consisting of jazzy chopped beats, slowly pulsating keyboards, dreamlike vocals courtesy of Emily Burns and muted acoustic guitar. Tempos pull back and push forward. The production, too, is impossible to ignore – it is clean yet warm, and more than anything self-aware, playing to our nostalgia for the vinyl sound we never properly experienced without trying to pretend that they didn’t exploit the amazing possibilities offered by modern recording software.
They know how long to cycle an idea before moving on and they know when to bring parts back
“All Over Again, All Over Again” isn’t predictable, however, and holds surprises for the listener at every turn. On “Monaco/Korea”, the sound of tiny bells (or maybe wind chimes) makes up the song’s lead synth. “Wolves” places the spotlight, like “Paris Street”, on Emily Burns’s delicate, affecting vocals. “Sparrows In The Gutters”, coming in at a lengthy 8:24, moves through the sounds of ambient field recordings then dark, twisted dub, offering a number of samples which remain part of the instrumental landscape rather than sticking out like a sore thumb. “Caswell” gives us what is perhaps the album’s biggest surprise, shifting gears from ambient, synth-based drifting to dirty, distortion heavy riff-rock. One of Delmer Darion’s strengths is the ability to glue together so many contrasting ideas without overwhelming the listener. They know how long to cycle an idea before moving on and they know when to bring parts back. You definitely get the sense that each track took a lot longer than 5 minutes to bash out on Logic – the word composition seems far more fitting for each song Delmer Darion offer us.
Despite the variety which Tom Lenton and Oliver Jack have been careful to cultivate, however, “All Over Again, All Over Again” feels like it was designed to be played as a full LP, and the surprises to be found make less for an erratic collection of tracks than a carefully thought-out piece of musical art (nearly two years in the making) which stands as a testament to its creators’ multi-faceted talents. Although some listeners may be put off by the album’s scope and its occasionally unremarkable meanderings, many more are likely to be drawn by the beautiful production that it offers, the vibrancy of tracks and the sheer sense of life that permeates the album. Many tracks feel like they have been translated from real life experience, either contemplative or sentimental soundtracks for those small moments that sometimes feel of a lot more importance.