SOFTSPOT releases magnificent new album Clearing, April 7 on Arrowhawk
SOFTSPOT not only returns with a dashing new release but they do so a four piece. Clearing moves like a painting—mysterious and alluring. The album pulsates with electronic geology, formulating a world of mystique.
Sarah Kinlaw and Bryan Keller Jr., formed SOFTSPOT in 2009 as a duo. They evolved their sound and pallette over the years along with the addition of Blaze Bateh on drums and Jonathan Campolo on synths. Clearing is their first output as a quartet. The beauty and amazement that we experience from this endeavor is stunning.
From “Maritime Law” to “Shadows in the Shade,” we go from uncertainty to contentment. The first song drives a beat that mimics the unpredictability of the ocean. You feel the geometry of the time signature beating down. Controlled chaos. Sarah Kinlaw uses words as movement. Guitar notes toss and tumble. I can feel an emotional derivative to something, but I have never experienced anything like this in its capacity. And how they can go from that into the sleepy-eyed “Shadows in the Shade,” does not seem like it would work, but it does, especially the dissonant chorus and haunting melodies floating like air. An angular and organic pop number, if Bill Evans listened to Stereolab and formed an indie band, this would be it.
SOFTSPOT – Abalone
The polarizing “Abalone” with its flickering synth and guitars bounce off each other. The song fades into an hypnotic homage to the synth. The song is utility while something like “Habits” does more to enrich the illustration of the human condition, Kinlaw and Keller, Jr., understand the strengths of playing off of each member while accentuating their strengths.
Who are we to say that this album is as much about empathy as it is exploring the culture of creativity through art. One thing is certain is that so many feelings come to light through interpretation. The imagination and musical thought put into Clearing is a glorious celebration of the movement.
By the end, “Double Sink Variety” is as exposed as anyone should ever get. Kinlaw’s voice turns into an instrument of her own and the balance between ambient hues and the minimal jazz-like drum cadence supplies just enough to keep the song from imploding in itself. We are washed away from everything that was presented before us. It’s okay to let go and sail away into the silence. You will need that time to reflect. After all, Clearing is an experience only you can have and react to.