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The Nether Dawn - Long Shadow of a Dream

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Artist: The Nether Dawn

Album: Long Shadow of a Dream

Label: Students of Decay

Review date: Jul. 31, 2008

Antony Milton’s Listed feature from last year suggests that he grounds his music in two approaches, the song and the drone, and that the whole mass is shrouded in melancholy. The song approach gives his abstract excursions shape, while his drone side helps him break open songs into long-form, oblique narratives. 2007’s Orla is a prime example of the former, while his most recent release as The Nether Dawn has him trying out, not always successfully, the latter.

When Milton’s drone-forms and song-structures meet, on pieces like the five-minute “The Warm Ribs of Home,” the effect is enthralling. A drone built from coarse feedback lulls for the first three minutes, until a skeleton guitar chord begins to chime and move with the bass, and a half-melody – something like a way forward – begins to form. “Forgotten Drink (2 am)” weaves even more detail into a rough arc. Milton sets multiple lines of feedback fuzz and hum against a floor-tom beat and webs of echoing guitar tones. The elements dance around each other, never really touching but still forming a whole. The incomplete afterglow, the imperfection, leaves that melancholic haze discussed earlier.

At other times, the drone elements of the pieces, mostly sourced from some form of guitar feedback, are distant and muted. This effect blots out the song-ideas, and hence much of the mood turns to mush. “It Will Find It Out” comes off as not much more than unintelligible lyrics and unmoored guitar riffing. The recorded-live title track, even at 20 minutes, suffers from this lack, its waves of throbbing feedback, high-frequency shrill, dialogue samples and audio verité crowd murmur not interacting but obscuring each other. Much of Long Shadow… ends up with this inconsequential feeling, a frustrating outcome, as parts promise much more.

By Matthew Wuethrich

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