Sailcloth – Close Keeping.

I have a tendency to support the lesser known artists and labels. There is something special about music that is not as critically appraised or highly regarded simply because the artist/label is an unknown quality. The converse can be said for the better known artists/labels that seem to be universally praised who are at times untouchable due to their name or stature. The thing about the lesser known/unknown artists and what attracts me to them over the name artists, is that there is a purity to their music that is refreshing and honest. Such is the case with Alex Luquet aka Sailcloth who, like fellow US musician Adam London aka Bedroom has created a release that has drawn me in. That release is “Close Keeping” which is his debut release and comes with a little back story.

“I recently released an album of music I wrote following a home burglary in which my lap top was stolen and I switched over to tape for writing and producing. All the pieces were written for upright bass and electric guitar, but I loved embracing the sounds of my working environment which more often than not included the pacing of my senile dog. The songs focused on moving quickly  and avoiding second guessing myself”

“Growth” opens the release with guitar paired with what sounds like field recordings of a breeze/storm. The guitar has a rich tremolo sound which is anchored by the double bass that joins in and provides a contrast in the tempo of the playing. The music has a lo – fi quality (which doesn’t impact on the overall sound, rather it enhances the intimate feel), which exudes a certain amount of calmness. The track is rather short, much like the Ep itself, but sets the tone for the Ep without totally representing it.

“Year Long Storm” a horn like drone that wails away alongside similar field recordings to the opener is cut across by a chugging and droning upright bass that has a similar sound to a cello. The feeling of the piece is claustrophobic which could reference the title and I get the feeling of a rolling fog that overwhelms an area like shipping docks. The easy thing would to be layering field recordings of rain to paint obvious sonic road blocks, but for me the drones are what gives the feelings that a long storm would generate.

“Writing on Paper” a swirling ghostly spectral sound hangs over tremolo guitar and the bass strums and hand-made percussion. Additional guitar motifs come in to further color the piece and give it that extra layer of depth to make it standout. The way the instruments fill the space as well as the tones created provide an enjoyable listen. Unfortunately that enjoyment is short-lived with the main part of the track ending around one and a half-minute into the only two-minute track. This could easily and enjoyably be fleshed out to two or three times the length since it is such an enjoyable part of the track.

“Keep It” I mentioned before about the cello like quality of the upright bass and this is evident in this piece which is a large contrast to other tracks due to its distorted sounds. The upright bass saws through the music rhythmically the building up with a driving, cutting feel while distorted guitar inhabits a similar sound, but a different style of playing. The guitar is quite cinematic in its sound, but also having a slight feel of soloing over the bass. While I mentioned in the previous tracks brevity and its drawback, this track is even shorter and even though it is short, you feel that all that was or could be said, has been said and it’s complete.

“Winter Walks” the way Luquet pairs the guitar and upright bass works so well. The lighter tone of the guitar playing which sounds relaxingly strummed without a pick is grounded by the bass which gives the piece its emotive core. A subtle additional guitar narrowly cracks the surface adding a touch of filigree to the track. There is also a percussive sound which could be field recordings of either rain or something crinkling underfoot. Either way it is not too obvious and is used sparingly so as not to detract or overload the track.

“Old Dogs” is the tracks four minute plus epic full of natural field recordings including the aforementioned senile dog meandering around Luquet’s house. The guitar takes the focus of the track and has a somewhat mournful and moody quality to it which I would hazard a guess as being indicative to Luquet’s feeling for his own ‘old dog’. Bass features in the track as a supporting instrument holding the fort early on before the guitar finishes of the track with a similar strumming style to that displayed in “Winter Walks”. The track is like flip sides of a coin with the contrasting minimalist second half and the moody first half. It’s almost like and initial feeling of a relationship between an owner and their animal and the inevitable loneliness when the animal finally passes away.

“Staring At The Sky While It Is Raining” chiming distant storms, trembling drones and fragile tentative guitar lead through to an ambient passage were notes are allowed to hang and flow. Space is given to the tendrilous sounds as they flicker out, not really inhabiting a specific sphere, but are given the freedom to twist and move with only the last few seconds do they seem to find a form. Quite a different track to end up on, as it feels less structured than those that have preceded it, but still feels an equal part of this release.

Luquet has simply put out an enjoyable release. Running just under 18 minutes in length it is not rushed and in a way reminds me of those Audio Gourmet release that clock in around a similar length. With a restricted sound pallet and recording process, Luquet and masterer Taylor Deupree have brought forth a collection of tracks that are laid back, relaxing and a perfect soundtrack for any type of weather. As of writing this, on the bandcamp page for this release there is one review and one account listed. This release deserves ALOT more and at only $5US it is a bargain. Check out the video and stream the release below on Spotify and see what I mean when I say you will not be disappointed.

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