News From Nowhere
Bored with dubstep? Alienated by beefy, frat-boy wobble bass? Then maybe you’d like Darkstar. Hell, maybe you are Darkstar, particularly if you’ve suddenly decided to explore the frayed edges of electronic psychedelia. The Brit outfit have seemingly abandoned their UK bass music roots, although where they’re heading is anyone’s guess.
Now a three-piece with full-time vocalist James Buttery (a lovely surname, if ever I heard one), they’ve refashioned themselves into left-of-centre songwriters, with rambling, half-lucid stories told in odd, hypnotic mantras, such as those found on Timeaway, where Buttery’s lonely voice sounds something like Animal Collective’s Panda Bear broadcasting scrambled, hopelessly lost SOS messages from deep space. Some of the best moments here are the gentlest. The curiously titled - (the - is a title, not a typo) drifts by like a barely there vapour, whilst tracks like A Day’s Pay For A Day’s Work give us an idea of how The Beta Band’s songs might’ve turned out had they been recorded in a walk-in freezer.
If all of this seems difficult to parse, then I’m maybe doing a good job. Quite frankly, News From Nowhere is bloody difficult to summarise, even after a few spins. Looking at my notes I see that I’ve jotted down fuzzy platitudes including “twinkling majesty” and “weird sensations of dislocation”, which sound promising on paper without actually meaning very much. Darkstar’s talent is to weave hypnagogic music that unsettles and evokes strange layers of feeling in subtle ways that defy easy unravelling; good sustenance for space cadets between missions.
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