Album Reviews

Soft Walls – No Time

(Trouble In Mind) UK release date: 4 August 2014

soft-walls-no-time Busy Brightonian Dan Reeves obviously has a conveyor belt mentality as releases continue to flow forth from both his band Cold Pumas and solo project Soft Walls; No Time is the follow-up to the eponymous solo debut released just two years ago, and work has already begun on the next Cold Pumas effort. If that wasn’t enough, he runs the Faux Discx label as well.

Mainly recorded at home in Brighton during 2013, No Time was subsequently mixed by Hookworms’ MJ at Leeds’ Suburban Home Studios and the similarities with the psychedelic five-piece that herald from the same city are apparent. When on the road, of course, such as the Liverpool Psych Fest in 2013 headed by American droners Moon Duo, Reeves calls in the troops, these being Stuart Cartland, Joe Tindall and Scott Reeve.

But the album is all his own work. Opener Won’t Remember My Name boasts echoing vocals, heavy tambourine, fuzzy guitar and a strummed beat with little recognised percussion. It’s a psychedelic vibe for sure, heading towards The Brian Jonestown Massacre waters before an Eastern sounding, ‘60s based guitar line and eerie synths take over.

The Big Nod, in comparison, is a little on the drab side – a primitive electronic drumbeat that sounds as if it’s on an imperfect loop paves the way for a guitar heavy effort with feedback abound married with more distorted vocals, which basically become the norm; only a prominent chord change provides any excitement. Foot Of The Stairs fares better, built around a repetitive guitar riff and those ever present echo heavy vocals to represent an intriguing highlight as does Guided Through with its simple guitar line that’s repeated throughout amidst some heavy reverb.

Several tracks are over in a blink: Early In The Day is a ghostly effort where a single synth chord drones away and the sub-two minute title track represents a burst of confusion, tuneless vocals and spoken words helping to create the picture. Slumbering is another two minutes of mere noise whilst Transient View walks an instrumental path that threatens to thrill before a single note outro seems to last forever.

Two epic motorik driven tracks steal the show. Firstly, Never Come Back Again opens to the keyboard tone of The Who’s Baba O’Reilly without the bubbling before the electronic motorik beat kicks in. Layers then form as ingredients are further added – a pounding bass in the style of Fujiya & Miyagi that occasionally detours in Joy Division fashion, then clicking percussion and vocals recalling The Jesus And Mary Chain’s Jim Reid arrive. When suitably toned organs are added, everything is in place for an excellent slab of modern psych-infused Krautrock.

All The Same is even better: a single keyboard note opens the track before the motorik drumbeat begins, chopping guitars then appear with proceedings at this stage sounding like one of Seven’s Krautrock influenced efforts. Ghostly, reverb heavy vocals and screaming fuzz-heavy guitars occasionally break the monotony but it’s totally mesmerising nonetheless, Wooden Shjips’ like swirling synths then helping the track to its conclusion.

No Time is a huge step forward since the 2012 debut and yet another essential psych-heavy 2014 collection, this time from a more unexpected source. Both Hookworms and Soft Walls play Brighton’s The Haunt this month, together. It is highly recommended that those able to get there do so; and if you live further afield, well, who doesn’t like a day out by the seaside?

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Soft Walls – No Time