Review Summary: An acid trip on a bad conscience.
It might seem a little odd for Sam Mumford to release his debut EP on electronic label WW Records. As a soft-spoken, sensitive white guy with a guitar, being surrounded by sleek and sexy city music must make him feel awkward. I'd like to say it suits him, and it doesn't take the full EP to realise Sam isn't just your average singer-songwriter. For Scatter
he's teamed up with fellow labelmate Wampa to create some of the most dark and interesting guitar music this side of The Microphones. Sam Mumford might be an acoustic musician, but there's plenty of electricity in his veins.
This makes itself evident at the midpoint of "Sleep Tears," where the song cascades through metallic, low-end rattles, harmonics and wobbles of distortion in a surprisingly successful attempt to make one of the most satisfying rhythmic sections around. Percussion is kept quiet and low-key, but frantic enough to round off the spikes of fear in Sam's voice. It becomes slightly distressing in the end. Despite this, the fantastic contrast of texture between this harsh backdrop and soft vocals is incredibly hypnotic. It'll send you to sleep, but probably straight into a nightmare of bad trips in dark woods.
is not a very happy EP. It seems more scared than anything else and the constant breaks and cuts reach for an anxious atmosphere. Abstract, poetic lyrics betray sadness through the cracks: the image of a broken man breaking through. "Unpack the folds/ that perforate and hold/ the ashes of bruises and bite marks/ the residue of been and gone/ but not forgotten."
With broken music to follow suit, it's unsurprising for Scatter
to leave a dark and open ended legacy. There is no narrative and things do not get better: this is how things are.
Luckily, some mistake of evolution decided there should be a well worn path from tragedy to beauty, and the intimate imagery of Scatter
runs down it faster than most. Both musically and lyrically the album weaves a tangle of tapestry waiting to be unraveled; what first appears too dark and twisted to navigate soon reveals the sweetest soul of 2014 soothing himself with his own songs. I hope things get better Sam, but can you please keep making music if it doesn't?