True Bypass – True Bypass (2010)
It was great timing that I should first hear this album when winter has hit the mountains where I live; with its drizzling rain and fog masking the windows, all helping to somehow erase notions of an outside world and its myriad technological distractions. Lately I’ve been tuning into a frequency that frames the internet and its attendant trappings and trends as both a blessing and a curse. I (like a lot of people) spend far too much time online. I read fewer books. I see less people. Sometimes I think we’d be better off if we woke up one day to find the internet had just stopped working. I think the subsequent reconnecting with old friends and old technology would be a good thing. But I’m on the losing team. There is no way around our digital age. No way to bypass it. Still, I’m grateful for small victories. And that’s precisely what this album is. True Bypass is Craig Ward (ex dEUS) and Chantal Acda (Sleeping Dog), two musicians who call Antwerp, Belgium home, who delicately plot minimal acoustic paths through the modern bombast. Their destination could be called Ambient Folk, or Small Lights in the Distance Music. Beautifully understated, delivered like old friends giving you a private concert on the couch. As they play, you can hear things in their music, perhaps echoes of Will Oldham, or Marissa Nadler, (artists whose record collections might include old copies of Nick Drake, Karen Dalton or Bridget St. John) and the intimate atmosphere enables you to forget about the things that are getting you down: the botoxed faces on magazine covers; the desperate ham-fisted farce of Lady Gaga; the depressing news headlines; the repackaged moments of second-hand irony, or Tweets. All that stuff dissolves. If you’re looking for hooks or catchy choruses, look elsewhere. This music is subtle. The forms seem circular. The lyrical imagery is fleetingly glimpsed. In the songs “Hallway” and “Drawing the Lines” the spatiality is skewed with tone droplets of keys and piano which disguise the horizon. The soft crackle and thrum that stirs beneath “Trying to Make it Home” does strange things to time. And the song “How to Find” seems to hover, revolving slowly like a suspended Calder. The album has an accumulative effect. There is a shiver to the vocals that suits chilly isolation. And the guitars chime like softly-tapped icicles. But you can’t zoom through this landscape and expect to catch the beauty with a couple of snapshots, you have to get out and walk. You need to spend some time here, get familiar with the backstreets. Rug up: jacket, scarf and gloves. It gets cold here, but you’ll find the rooms filled with the kind of warmth that makes winter your favourite season.
by Decoy Spoon