posted on November 22, 2010 18:00
A review of the EP 'Yes Way' by School Tour
Review Snapshot: One artist’s ethereal exploration of electronic art and its borderless landscape. And while some may dismiss it as self-indulgent, the asking price (free) makes it recommended listening for any open-minded music fan.
The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10
Full Review: In the past, an artist would commence his creative journey by relocating to a distant rural landscape, disconnected from the distractions of the modern day. In severing his ties with society, he opened the possibility of an unimpeded exploration of the self, re-emerging finally with a product as yet unrealised by the outside world. Yeats’ finest work arose in Inishfree; Led Zepelin’s III found its feet in a remote Welsh cottage and now Donegal becomes the birthplace of a new breed of Irish Electronica from instrumentalist School Tour.
School Tour - real name Gerald Duffy - is fast becoming a leading light in an Irish avant garde music scene still in its infancy. His experimental style maintains a multi-dimensional sound, incorporating hypnotic Trance loops with a penchant for opaque melodies in keeping with the ethos of Chill out. New EP Yes Way depicts seven sides of the same artist, bound together only by their shared capacity to transport the listener to untraversed, transcendental terrains.
“Melodica, Alpenhorn & Voice” is an evocative, electronic eulogy layering loop upon loop as if in anticipation of a climactic crescendo that never actually materialises. Instead, the song lingers in its lugubrious landscape of sonorous sounds, content with the physical state of being rather than the pursuit of a predetermined progression. A two-note melody provides the background pulse upon which the keys and synth spiral in sepulchral waves of reverb. The minimalist vocal lines venture into the realms of ritual chant in the vein of Fever Ray, leaving trails of decay in their wake. Trance-like in its effect, this introspective instrumental opens the door of harmonic possibilities, conjuring images of mountainous landscapes in the mind of the listener.
“Ylimaf sdnas” is merely an exhibition of Duffy’s capabilities as an architect of sound. Two interweaving melodies flow in reverse in an endless loop like a soundtrack to the red room in Dante’s Peak. Putting it on a bedtime playlist will likely lead to lucid dreams with heavy Freudian overtones.
The lilting melancholia of “Savage Nights” recalls the minimalist electro of the 80’s new wave, drawing a close comparison to Depeche Mode. The imposing industrial beat borrowed from Nine Inch Nails provides a base for the sorrowful melody of the keyboard.
Listening to the dark and atmospheric “Love Loses Hold” feels like being lost in a labyrthine dream world created by a bipolar Aphex Twin. A sense of the uncanny emanates from its orchestration, forming a perceivable tension in each harmony. The technique is subtle in its execution and yet pervasive in its effect.
“Skating with Another” opens with a sample of a busy street, eliciting images of Pink Floyd in The Wall era. The voices fade out as the drone of a harpischord fills the spectrum with a Bach-infused melody. The subtly phased nuances of the synth add a touch of the surreal, making it a suitably spaced-out soundtrack for the liquid lounges littered across the urban landscape.
Now available as a free download, Yes Way dares to traverse the capitalist demarcation line that traditionally transforms music into a mere consumable community. Blissfully disconnected from such commercial concerns, the EP depicts an artist’s ethereal exploration of electronic art and its borderless landscape. And while some may dismiss it as self-indulgent, the asking price makes it recommended listening for any open-minded music fan.