Over the past couple of months, I’ve written about the London-based duo and JOVM mainstays Still Corners, and as you may recall, 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.
The band’s fourth album Slow Air is slated for release later this week through the duo’s Wrecking Light label, and the album 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, 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 ensuring 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 albums single “Black Lagoon,” and “The Photograph,” the duo managed to retain the shimmering and moody atmospherics they’ve long been known for but paired with a 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 Message” possess a film noir-ish vibe while drawing a bit from classic Sun Records recordings and 50s and 60s country as the song is centered around Murray’s ethereal vocals, a simple but propulsive backbeat and clean, shimmering guitars — and while meant to evoke late night, lonely highways the song as the duo explains is about “leaving someone and telling them on voicemail.”
Filmed and directed by the duo, the recently released video for “The Message” continues a run of incredibly cinematic visuals off the new album — with the visuals focusing on the lonely image of clouds drifting over a mountain range. At one point, there’s a brief superimposing of Murray’s hand calling the love interest at the center of the song and telling them that she’s leaving them, and as a result the visuals while being fittingly moody also evoke an underlying sense of liberation.