The worriedaboutsatan project is currently in it’s sixteenth year of existence. With a back catalogue of works on labels such as Gizeh, Burning Witches, Wolves and Vibrancy, Sound In Silence and Gavin Miller’s own This Is It Forever, the existence of the project nearly came to an end when Miller’s partner Thomas Ragdale opted to be a solo artist. Miller has released some fine works as a solo artist, like the 2018 pairing of “Meander” on Lost Tribe Sound and “Shimmer” on Sound In Silence, so it would be easy for him to retire the name and continue on his own merry way. But, as I noted on my review of the first worriedaboutsatan release he did by himself, 2019’s “Crystalline”, there is a difference between the music he creates under his own name and that of worriedaboutsatan. After the success of “Crystalline” it is exciting to see him appear as part of the illustrious n5MD roster with his latest work “Time Lapse”.
“Now solely the project of founder member Gavin Miller, worriedaboutsatan is an intriguing proposition. After the departure of long-term band member Thomas Ragsdale last year, a period of reflection nearly saw the band dissolve completely, but after a bit of soul searching, Miller decided to continue the worriedaboutsatan name, albeit now adapted into a solo project. Such trials and tribulations eventually manifested themselves into a new look worriedaboutsatan, with a sound slightly shifted from what had gone before. Almost as a throwback to the brief period in 2005 where the band was the sole focus of Miller, the worriedaboutsatan sound morphed into a more atmospheric exercise in layers of swirling guitar, languid synths and bubbling drum machine percussion, all of which feature prominently on Time Lapse, an album which features some of the first material written for worriedaboutsatan as a solo project.
After over a decade of existence, worriedaboutsatan is still here, still looking forward and still occupying that space between electronic pulses and human emotion.
The music of worriedaboutsatan is one in which time is taken for the pieces to unfold. Miller is no rush to get to the various hooks and treats you will come across, instead he revels in using time to build pieces that make their length immaterial. When listening to a piece you are not taking in say the fact that the first three tracks are between nine and a half and ten minutes in length, because unlike some other artists Miller makes time an arbitrary concept and you just don’t feel like you are listening to pieces that go on and on and on. Also as proven on those two 2018 solo albums I mentioned above, Miller has a wide-scale vision of the music on his releases. These are not collections of tracks, all though they could be listened individually. Instead Miller works within the framework of an album which results in pieces that are part of the same puzzle and the result is a coherent listen.
Musically the pieces on this album are a sublime blend of ambient hooks, electronica motifs, dub techno squelchiness, post rock impressions and cinematic flourishes. The end result of these styles and approaches being put into the melting pot is an album that can transcend different listening situations and can also broaden it’s appeal with listeners. A piece like “Twin” is one in which Miller goes all out in bringing in his various influences and of course his experience in making music.
Opening with “Dawn” the framework is put in place and within the first three of ten minutes that the track exists for you, you get a fair idea of where the album may take you. There is shimmering guitar, micro glitches, ultra minimal bass, hand clap like percussion, ambience, solo piano and the knowledge that for the forty five minutes length of the album you are going to be transported away. The fact that this project and indeed Miller himself is in it’s mid teens, you know that whatever music he has been creating and absorbing has formed part of his musical language, of which he is freely communicating. “Point Of Departure” clearly demonstrates what I have just stated in the way that it easily transcends genre, moving fluidly through contemporary movements including nods to guitar based pastoral ambience, IDM flourishes, Dance floor touches (dare I use the “dreaded’ groove word) as well as a noisy feedback drenched coda. The track has it all without the feeling of it being a mash up.
“A Lost History” is perfect for headphones as with the close listening the musical cues are more noticeable. Slowly evolving from a bed of slightly squally ambience, synth throbs gain in intensity and menace with a 1970’s sci-fi vibe meets 80’s dark synth (or possibly it’s more contemporary re-imagining). There is a tension that while not intense, does hold a command over the listener as they are not sure which direction it might take. Cascading shimmering guitars add a form of colour to the proceedings as does a growing subtle swirl of ambience before a slightly melancholic pensive mood takes hold. There are elements of “Twin” that remind me of “A Lost History” which is probably based around the synth sounds and progressions more than any thing else, but as I have mentioned, before this particular piece sees Miller lay down his influences. Unlike the change in mood that occurred in “A Lost History”, on “Twin” Miller pushes further closer to a crescendo before reining it in.
The final two pieces “Mingels” and “Dawn (Edit)” sees Miller return to an ambient core with “Mingels” having two distinct guitar orientated pieces looping over each other in a sort of off-kilter way. Possibly if you take the track title to heart it could be a sonic representation of people passing from one conversation to another at a gathering, but never really getting the full information or making a strong connection. “Dawn (Edit)” as the name would suggest is a return to where we began, albeit in quite stripped down form. What it does feature is the bones that make up the opening track in an opaque fashion. While elements such as glitches and beats tend to be in the foreground of the original piece on this one they are either absent or distant. The track actually reminds me of n5MD label made bvdub with it’s swirly, melodic dense ambience and is a nice end point to the album especially when you press repeat and listen all over again.
“Time Lapse” continues the strong start to this new year by n5MD after Ocoeur, port-royal and Daniel McCagh and in these sort of times, it is the music that we need right now. If you haven’t heard of worriedaboutsatan before or fully experienced the recent music that Miller has put out (the last couple of years especially have been particularly rewarding), then “Time Lapse” is a great starting point and you can work your way back. “Time Lapse” is available from Friday May 8 on LP (Creepy Forest Green!), CD and Digital and is totally recommended.