‘Island’ is a ten-track LP, a drifting tide of sound and creation of mood. It’s a mood maker, along with a candle, those dim apps you can get on your phone. Mediation, horror, tension – all crafted with a guitar pick and delicate keys.
The aptly named Begin opens the record, and there’s really nothing to see here. It’s a bit like spa music or the score of a particularly sun-bleached indie movie trailer.
It’s not a perfect intro, but Can’t Reach the Pedals quickly knocks in to save the day. The sparse sound shows off the great restraint with Quinn’s sprightly plucking. There’s a mythical feel to the chords, with strong Celtic influences on clear display.
Mid Season and Hoof and Horn have more of a warped sound, intriguing to the ear but draws a blank in the mind. The other-worldly beats are, again – calming – but slightly more mysterious, with Mid Season carrying a hint of an ECG just short of flat-lining. The bland nothingness of Evening Begin meshes into a more striking finale, with the impending sense of doom in the chime-like instrumentals setting the standard for the second half of the record.
Like Evening Begin ended on a warning, Return Home is the next suitable plan of action, ringing in like the Angelus slowed down to a zombie drawl. Tracks stop ending as they begun, instead developing throughout the song, slowly faded but building to something deeply distorted. Church-like and echoed, there’s a dark sense of religious doom.
Sunridden’s beautiful aquatic melodies and Hoof and Horn’s subtle feedback, it all seems very improvised, still lacking that polished production. Figures, really, that the record was recorded in a home studio, with field recordings adding to the rawness.
While it’s hard to distinguish the tracks without multiple listens, the LP is better shoved on and left to its own devices. The final three tracks sound like heavy eyelids and sleep, with deep, hollow strumming easing you out.
Emakousma’s concept is unique, spatial and ambient, haunting yet warm. It’s hard to put in a box – a ritual we often feel uncomfortable without. While this odd listen from Barry Quinn is intriguing, it’s certainly not for everyone. Certainly like nothing you’ve heard before, it was clearly never supposed to be.