Phaeleh
All That Remains


3.3
great

Review

by StrangerofSorts STAFF
May 4th, 2016 | 10 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: a promise of things to come

It’s Bristol, it’s 2011 and it’s an interesting time to be alive. For the ambitious student, it’s a city of codewords. “Put on something chill” means “play Black Sands”, “something else” means Burial and “no, not that” means Phaeleh. Beneath the surface, everyone and their mum is creating introverted bass music. Some even makes its way on here, and for a while Bristol gets to feel like the trip-hop days all over again. More importantly, music critics had not talked it to death, Crofters Rights was still The Croft, and awkward tagalongs like me were yet to arrive en masse and ruin it.

This is all gone now: the city and the world in general have moved on through house, grime and techno to music no one will ever describe as “ethereal” (readers of music reviews rejoice!). However, in the face of this change Phaeleh just seemed to potter along with his own thing. His two releases in 2014 – the pleasant but not particularly memorable A World Without and take-or-leave ambient album Somnus – failed to properly establish themselves in the changing music world. At their worst they felt old fashioned, but at their best they were simply uninspired, with nothing to distinguish them as something exciting or maintain his appeal to rapidly evolving tastes.

All That Remains arrives after two years of radio silence. Two years in which Phaeleh has, apparently, been “rekindling his love affair with music”. The EP represents a blueprint for Phaeleh releases in the coming years and a new palette of styles to replace those past their use-by date. As a result, it should be taken less like an EP and more like a promise: “this is a new era; here is what I will be making now”.

The album begins like it’s a promise Phaeleh intends to keep. The typical spaced-out atmospheric swells of “Mountain” soon give in to the thuds and clicks of a kick drum and something in the place of a hi-hat. Bringing his synth pads in on the offbeat, Phaeleh maintains momentum. His characteristically warm ambience channels through a house groove with all the effortlessness of someone aware the two scenes were never that far apart. The track grows to a relaxed and comfortable kind of excitement, and if Phaeleh is using this EP to gauge interest it should be made clear that more of the same would be grand.

Some of the EP is less successful. Phaeleh is obviously at his most comfortable with tracks like “Remember” and its murky, garage explorations will endear to long term fans, but it makes the same mistake as recent material in relying on already-plundered musical territory. In other words, “Remember” would have made a fantastic release five years ago (whispers of a modern day garage revival be damned). Similarly, the prettiness of piano-piece “Acceptance” is welcome yet a little too fluttering to hit home and, besides, is over almost as soon as it begins.

Phaeleh threatens to go a bit Nils Frahm on us with “Trails of Light”, but this part of the EP marks a return to his original promise. His classical manipulation and throbbing bass here, as well as the murky Earl Sweatshirt-ready space of the title track, create new possibilities for future material. If nothing else, they prove Phaeleh’s ability to hop over to new styles if he wants to. It’s just a question of finding them first.

While All That Remains does not re-establish Phaeleh as a cultural force on its own, it re-opens the possibility. He proves himself capable of moving on to new territory but this mishmash of styles is just a taster for a future which may or may not materialise. Whether this is a spot of momentary experimentalism or a taste of things to come is yet to be decided, and it is up to Phaeleh to make good on his promise.




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user ratings (8)
Chart.
3.3
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
StrangerofSorts
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2016


2902 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

phaeleh.bandcamp.com/



It's a track by track review in disguise!



Matt, if you're half as self aware as I would be if I made music and therefore reading this, got any free guestlist spots for Marble Factory on Saturday? Money's tight, and I'd love to see this live (haven't seen djrum since Simple Things 2013, either...).



Fans of old school Sputnik dubstep, Clubroot's back: soundcloud.com/clubroot/stop-motion

T5Cx
May 4th 2016


155 Comments


“Put on something chill” means “play Black Sands”, “something else” means Burial and “no, not that” means Phaeleh.

Haha, accurate af

Brostep
Emeritus
May 4th 2016


4313 Comments


excellent review mi amigo. i may have gotten into this style too late to really have experienced the circa-2011 glut of stuff, but it's exciting nonetheless to see the man continue to branch out. will be giving this a shot

TMobotron
May 5th 2016


7236 Comments


I've sort of lost interest in Phaeleh over the years, though I still dig some of the early stuff. Probably won't bother checking this out.

This is a really solid review though Johnny, as expected.

Keyblade
May 5th 2016


25006 Comments


aww snap a Tmobro sighting

Digging: Summoning - With Doom We Come

StrangerofSorts
Staff Reviewer
May 5th 2016


2902 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Cheers Will/ TMo



while you're still around (and considering the avatar) - any thoughts on the new Andy Stott?

FuzzyWookie
May 5th 2016


150 Comments


God, I don't know why I fooled myself into this, but I naively came here wanting this to be a decent recovery album for All that Remains, the metalcore band...

oltnabrick
May 5th 2016


35835 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i liked this

TMobotron
May 6th 2016


7236 Comments


@Stranger I've just listened to it once so far and I dig it, but it doesn't seem near as interesting as Faith In Strangers or Luxury Problems IMO (especially the latter, which really floored me the first time I heard it). Might just be that I'm used to his sound by now, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was something that could grow on me a lot. I try not to really make any judgement before I've heard something at least a few times. What are your thoughts?

Really gonna need some new Demdike Stare in my life soon, that Testpressing series spoiled the fuck out of me. And what's up Keyblade?

StrangerofSorts
Staff Reviewer
May 6th 2016


2902 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

I'm in the same boat, really. I find I need to be in a certain mood to crack in to a lot of this industrial/Manchester stuff anyway, and I just haven't been feeling it lately. (although I'm going to a muslimgauze night tonight - maybe I can crack into it more through him, even if that's a pretty round about way of doing it). It must be something to do with the environment - if I'm in some brutalist shithole then Stott me all you like, but I spend too much time on the net to keep the feeling going.



Still spin Faith in Strangers tho, that one's special.



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