The Earthly Frames - Light Reading - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Earthly Frames - Light Reading

by Sean Hewson Rating:8 Release Date:2019-01-18
The Earthly Frames - Light Reading
The Earthly Frames - Light Reading

The Earthly Frames is the work of Gabriel Walsh, who has also played in Wooden Wand & the Vanishing Voice in his time. Light Reading is an imagined reading list where the song titles are the book titles. It’s a bit high concept for me but that’s a personal failing and there is much more on offer here than lists.

A Doorbell For Finite Beings begins with some wildly arpeggiating keyboards, made stranger by the quick chord changes which make the patterns change constantly. The overall feel is of Wordy Pop, quite like of Montreal, who I love. Heavily treated synth chords start Underrepresented Harmonics. Walsh’s delivery on this reminds me of Donald Fagan, the conversational vocal melody over difficult and quick chord changes. As with the opening track, there is a lot going on all at once. The song then opens up into a lovely, instrumental coda that is over too quickly. She Waits For Yesterday has more of the ADHD, constantly-changing song structure. This song is a bit more wistful, with the feel of late-period Bowie. The wistfulness continues on The Imagined Lives Of Shirley Kudirka. This is more of a ballad with synth strings and a less constantly-evolving tune, which is a good thing. The pace increases for Dismantling Ubiquitous Monitoring Systems, which has the feel of Glam Bowie and is the nearest thing to banger on the album. There is also some nice guitar work towards the end of the track. Codas seem to be a speciality. The Architectural Mnemonics is a lovely, cinematic instrumental with a gorgeous, synth string arrangement.  Probably marking the mid-point of the album, but it’s much more than a palette cleanser. Walsh is back singing on End Timed Family. Again, the synth string arrangement is fascinating and engaging. A Teleological Wind has the feel of The War Of Drugs in its Psychedelic Brat Pack Movie arrangement, but it also has the feel of late-period Bowie, again. There is more modern feel to Dark Years History with the combination of harsh electronics and ambient sounds. The slight change of sound palette is welcome at this point. As with The Architectural Mnemonics, Walsh obviously knows when it’s time to change the landscape. Getting Started In Tempography is another lovely, well-judged instrumental showing that, if a move into soundtracks hasn’t already been considered, it should. Eye On Ghost Singers is another more modern-sounding track, almost approaching some of Scott Walker’s 80s work. The final track on Light Reading is Time Moving In Light is a beautiful, elegiac instrumental. A fitting ending and a fine example of what Walsh does best on this album.

Light Reading is a fascinating album - super smart and somewhere between of Montreal, Steely Dan and the Avant-Pop work of Bowie and Walker. The only slight problem is that Walsh doesn’t have the melodic chops of the above and that doesn’t always help the faster material on the first half of the album. However, there is so much more to enjoy. On the slower songs, the beauty of the arrangements really comes out and the album reveals itself to be a piece of work that can be re-visited again and again.

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