By: James Wilkinson
17 February, 2019, 19:30
There’s a wonderful calm in this age of constant noise that comes when you simply press the off button. No, I’m not saying to press stop on ‘Pins and Needles’, the opening track of Ålesund’s new EP Shift & Flux. In mere moments it’s magical ambience breaks through life’s clanking white noise, allowing you to exhale, becalm and let the world stop rushing as it washes over you.
By turns it is mesmerising, seductive and glacially dramatic. With its second half reaching a effortless crescendo. It’s heartbeat built upon Alba Torriset’s crystalline vocals and a piano so emotive, yet raw, it would bring a hush to the largest crowd.
A sign of the sheer class of the musicianship here, is that there are gentle shimmering layers of sound underneath the vocal and piano but these only ever compliment never distract.
Of the four tracks (there is a slightly unnecessary but still washed with charm Radiohead cover), ‘If You Let Me’ is possibly the most accessible in its structure, but because of that it is also the least memorable song in this case.
‘Lucid’ is perhaps the least tangible, like gazing through a rain dappled window into some dystopian future. ‘Lucid’ conjures Kate Bush raised by replicants, lost in a maze of Tokyo streets. ‘Lucid’ also has the strongest, yet simplest lyrical refrain of the EP; ‘we were held up in the stars’.
The title track has a more encompassing scope, again all hinged around Torriset’s intoxicating vocals. ‘Shift & Flux’s elegance has touchstones of The XX and CHVRCHES, but it never veers towards pastiche; again a sign of the height of musical craftsmanship Ålesund show throughout the EP.
Ålesund have given us a magical taste that you will drink in deeply. Now we wait, impatiently, to see what they reward us with next.
Shift & Flux is out now, available to stream and buy on bandcamp.