Review Summary: serene formlessness
Besides affording me the ability to throw tons of pretty adjectives at it and still sounding like I kind of know what I am talking about, my favourite thing about shoegaze is the genre’s relative formlessness. It’s a unique type of formlessness when constructed in an appropriate, careful manner, and could even be used as a means of measuring the quality of a record. Does it make you feel like you’re wandering through a hazy field? Does the music appear almost intangibly fragile, like bright clouds drifting through anything in the way and assuming vague, gorgeous shapes? Adjectives, adjectives. You get it, though: the more a shoegaze album allows you to get lost in its distorted waves, the better it is. Surprise: Sonic Day Codas
is a really good shoegaze album.
The second full length by Dublin duo Submotile is an exercise in all that makes the genre great, spinning abstractly lingering glimmers into an immersive, complete experience with enough remaining space to attribute unique meanings to each moment. While Sonic Day Codas
’ opening moments present a clear continuation of the band’s previous work with its bright, upbeat dream pop stylings, ‘Sunflower’ soon transforms its peppy acoustic guitars into several dense layers of nearly indistinguishable distortion. Retaining this energy, the album channels its buoyant textures through gorgeously opaque aesthetics, constructed by clashing and interlocking floods of sound. Whether it’s ‘Arcana’’s remarkably heavy choruses crashing into view and complementing its subtle verses or ‘Cyanotic’ constructing an excellently obscured soundscape based on a simplistic, compressed bass line, the album never loses sight of its intangible beauty.
As such, it’s unsurprising that Sonic Day Codas
’ highlights can be found in its longer tracks. ‘Anhedonia’ is a gorgeous centerpiece, condensing all of the album’s accomplishments into a slow, heavy six minutes of unrelenting shoegaze perfection. Daniela Angione’s gentle vocals appear embedded in the ebbing and flowing of the song’s dense mist, demarcating the music’s wonderfully esoteric nature while simultaneously filling its voids with unadulterated serenity. Similarly, ‘Waves of Life’ closes the record on a blistering note, dissolving intricately subdued drums in its meandering post rock, increasing in mass until there is nothing left. Its melodies appear brilliantly fragile; elongated to the point where any tiny movement could seemingly annihilate its entire framework, yet elastic enough to ensure that each particle would float right back into its perfectly lingering position.
Sonic Day Codas
may not present anything inherently new, but its excellent interweaving of ethereal sounds makes for a wonderful record. Submotile have crafted an abstract album to get lost in, while never losing track of its undeniable beauty. When it comes to shoegaze, there is hardly a better compliment.