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Review: 'Johannes, Alain'

-  Label: 'Ipecac Recordings'
-  Genre: 'Folk' -  Release Date: '31st July 2020'

Our Rating:
Alain Johannes has an immense resume of collaborations and production credits, but ultimately, like any artist, is only ever as good as their latest work. ‘Hum’ was born out of a period of extreme personal difficulty marked primarily by loss.

On the surface, ‘Hum’ is a relatively sedate, acoustic-led set of songs: nothing too challenging, and a lot of it is, indeed, sparse, low-key and drifts by.

‘A Mermaid’s Scream’ is a warped and disconsolate slow flamenco shanty, and makes for an opening that grabs the attention by virtue of being out of the ordinary.

‘If Morning Comes’ sounds like David Bowie ding shoegaze: there’s a lumping thumping beat clattering away amidst the dense and murky swirl that calls to mind ‘1: Outside’ and some of his mor experimental later efforts. Elsewhere, the dark trudge of ‘Sealed’ hammers out a cyclical chord sequence that’s reminiscent of Swans / Michael Gira’s compositional style, but with Johanne’s growing croon awash with reverb, the overall effect is more like Mark Lanegan at his most brooding. ‘Here in the Silence;’ carries hints of a Queens of the tone Age acoustic cut, and ‘Nine’ revisits the Lanegan vibe with its insistent electronic throb that hard the 80s synth leanings of his last couple of albums, and it works well.

‘Hum’ may be understated, but it’s rich in quality, and a definite grower.

  author: Christopher Nosnibor

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