There probably could not have been a more apt place in the world for Bluetile Lounge to originate from than Perth, Australia. Distanced and isolated from a burgeoning underground in the states, the group managed to occupy a time and space vastly different from their contemporaries amidst the rush of drawn out, melancholic indie rock in the early to mid ‘90s. On Lowercase
, Bluetile Lounge simultaneously play host to and subvert genre tropes of slowcore, swapping structure and form for lengthy, ebb and flow sequences in its dreamlike atmosphere, serving as a quiet entry into a style of music characterized by its rebellion against the buzz of alternative rock.
On a basic level, the music of Lowercase
can be defined by tension and release. The songs often open simply, with only a bleary guitar melody accompanied by a plodding drum beat, slowly and haphazardly searching for the next chord. There is a careful aimlessness at play here, the feigned impression of moving nowhere by means of a very subtle build of momentum. The band are in no hurry, leaving plenty of space to revel in Lowercase’s
languidness while gradually climbing to moments of sublime emotional release. In lesser hands, this organic tension could easily be spoiled, but Bluetile Lounge avoids this pitfall through their deliberate and judicious pacing. Quiet guitar fluttering litters the background of the early formations in “Ambered”, only to shift to the center stage over the period of several minutes into a shimmering wall of sound with tremendous power; in “GM”, the vocalist croons dispassionately over a sparse soundscape, building a gradual rapport through increased instrumentation and momentum until it comes crashing down in a surprisingly uplifting cadence. It would be underselling it to call it an album of climaxes, as these moments are always actualized within the progression of the entire work, and overpowering as these moments may be, they never steal the focus of the surrounding context.
“The Weight (And the Sea)” always seemed like too perfect of a title for the centerpiece track here; Lowercase
truly is an album lost at sea. It drifts formlessly for much of its run-time, almost systematically so, only to eventually find something to bind itself to in moments of realized coherence. It finds itself among something growing into that of a rare size and beauty, wholly organic in its buildup and uncompromisingly cathartic in release. As the last crest breaks and it reemerges from the storm, one is only left to think, “what happened"” as what was once commanding in its might slowly dwindles into obscurity, floating endlessly toward the horizon. And the cycle continues.