Last month, I wrote about the London-based duo and JOVM mainstays Still Corners, and as you may recall, with the release of their first three albums, Creatures of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures and 2016’s Dead Blue, the British duo comprised of vocalist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes, have developed a reputation for crafting incredibly atmospheric and moody dream pop/synth pop centered around Murray’s smoky vocals and shimmering atmospherics.
Slated for an August 17, 2018 release through the duo’s own Wrecking Light label, their fourth album Slow Air derives its name from the sultry summer days and nights they experienced during their time in Austin, TX, where they had written the album. Reportedly, the forthcoming Slow Air is a bit of a return to early form for Murray and Hughes, as the material learn towards arrangements that emphasize electric and acoustic guitars, live drumming and a minimal use of synthesizers. Recorded in a new studio designed by Hughes, the recorded sessions inspired a minimalist and fluid approach in which they used a variety of old and new microphones while making sure that they didn’t overthink the entire process as is the tendency of modern recording; in fact, they managed to keep the mistakes they recorded on the album, so as to remind the listener of the fact that living, breathing, feeling and imperfect humans made it, while also making sure that the important thing was the material’s emotionality.
Murray and Hughes recorded and mixed the album in three months, the fastest they’ve ever done so far, and from album single “Black Lagoon,” the London-based duo managed to retain the shimmering and moody atmospherics they’ve long been known for but paired with an previously unheard urgency. As Tessa Murray says of the album in press notes, “we wanted to hear beautiful guitar and drums and an otherworldliness, something about indefinable, along with a classic songwriting vibe. We’re always trying to get the sound we hear inside of ourselves, so we moved fast to avoid our brains getting in the way too much. The name Slow Air evokes the feel of the album to me, steady, eerie and beautiful.”
The album’s latest single “The Photograph,” is the slow-burning, atmospheric, synth-based torch song that to my ears immediately brings Prince to mind — his “Nothing Compares 2 U” in particular, as the song is about a long lost lover, who’s only left an old, slowly fading photograph behind as a reminder of what the song’s narrator once had. The video, which was directed by the duo continues a run of gorgeous and evocative visuals — in this case, black and white video which features Murray’s lone figure walking down a desolate highway eternally searching for something beyond the frame. The visuals manage to evoke the song’s spectral and yearning quality — with the understanding that most things in our lives are rendered as memories, but with a bit of fuzziness and distortion around the edges.