‘Sentinel’ sees Richie Egan return to the moniker of Jape (for the first time since The Redneck Manifesto’s 2018 release, ‘The How’, which saw the group celebrate twenty years of post-rock chops) and finds Egan delivering a collection of ephemeral moments of tranquil reflection.
In fact, ‘Sentinel’ seems more like the natural successor to ‘.wav goodbye’, the solo album of off-cuts Egan released under his own name on Bandcamp in 2015 – which he has subsequently taken down – rather than the younger brother of ‘This Chemical Sea’.
‘Sentinel’ centres around the thoughts that visit us in the small wee hours and disappear like post roll-over clarity. Here, Egan harnesses the power of Sunday morning coming down to deliver an intimate portrait of the subconsciousness and the memories that catch us off-guard in the middle of the night.
Egan utilises an almost ‘anti-production’ production stance on the record, choosing to give the sounds an unkempt, ethereal feel whereby string noise and other oddities which artists would normally seek to remove in the recording process are cleverly integrated to extenuate the atmosphere.
Just like humans, these songs are shaped by the sum of their flaws and experience. It is this unpolished veneer which makes ‘Sentinel’ essential listening.
The title-track slowly builds across six minutes, rising from earnest folk ruminations which echo Simon and Garfunkel, until more instrumentation and layers are built to create a heady, yet never overpowering swirl of sound.
Indeed, Egan allows each track to meander and unfold at its own pace, there’s no rush to the chorus to satisfy the lords of daytime radio – half of the eight tracks weight in over the five-minute mark, though you’d hardly notice.
Much of the record is showered in a minimal haze with oscillating synths, drones and loops allowing simple guitar and piano motifs to flourish at the forefront. I Want To Get Right, The Sea Shade and Instrumental For the Lonely edify this approach.
After twenty years Egan’s musical journey continues to morph and excite. Long may it continue.