Colourmusic – Swimsuit

Across Swimsuit there is a feeling of fluidity. The motion of thoughts that occupy spaces between events is key. Ideas splash about, concepts flush over, and instruments spill beyond the limits of their containers. The sense here is of enormous freedom. It’s been four years since Colourmusic’s previous full length album release. But now the band from Oklahoma are back, and they mean business. There’s nothing to worry about.

The evolutionary step that Ryan Hendrix has taken is not small. Lyrically, the reach of the songwriter has ventured further within, and so the natural, external results feel more inclusive. Tracks like ‘Haunt Me‘, ‘Pageant’ and ‘Luxury’ – sitting in a sequence at the center of the album – feel more personally revealing than many previous subjects. Whoah, wait – we’re not saying that Hendrix previously held back – but now there’s a real sense of letting things go. Colourmusic never lacked confidence, nor did they lack authenticity. However, there’s now a feeling of great depth, greater ability to navigate through unlit passages.

The sonic treatment given to vocal phrasing is another measure of the fluid approach. Words morph, they’re heavy with reverb, they’re misted at the edges – they take the shape of submerged objects being hit by sub-aqua light. Look at the album cover – you’ll see what’s going on. Here’s a thing, but it’s not as you know it. Light bounces from every angle, of every surface. The result is a set of lyrics that are often clearly heard, but then not. A line, a phrase is audible for a moment, and then it passes to return in another version of itself. This is poetry being birthed by form as well as content, and Hendricks knows meter well.

The suspension of heavy objects in water means that none of Colourmusic’s previous weight is lost. There are some riffs here that bring pout that would match anything heard before. The title track, opening the album, starts with the pouring in of light and an almost angelic vocal bed with some oddness just beneath it. But wallop – it’s not long and we’re on that signature psychedelic fuzz, and a kind of bombastic drum signature that we loved from ‘Tog’ and and ‘Yes!’

In fact – for all the delicacies that float about in Swimsuit – they could not be suspended if not for the work in the incredible rhythm sections. The drum work throughout this album is extraordinary. At times there’s just the right amount of arrogance required to rig a fight, and in other moments the kit is dialed all the way back. It’s this weighing of punches that helps distinguish Colourmusic as being not your typical psych-rock outfit. Range is felt through – no one is pushing anything, and yet, before you know it, you’re swept away.

Something happens at the end of Swimsuit which is a master stoke in sequencing. The final three tracks, ‘1+3’ is just thirty-six seconds long. It feels like a coded message received via interstellar radio magnetic pulse, but it’s as beautiful as it is odd. Then, there’s ‘Middle School Dance (Death by Water)’ – which of course suggests the rising currents that become too much. Finally, the album ends with a track of almost nine minutes – ‘Death Artist’ (check out the swirling keys here). The combined elements of the entire album are brought together in a cohesive whole with these three tracks. We linger on death, and see life a the edges. There is darkness, but it’s only visible by the fires burning at the center.

Jung said that dreams of water are dreams of life. To consider the rising tides is to consider elements of the psyche that we cannot escape. Colourmusic may, or may not know this. However, in Hendrick’s songcraft he dives in to fly about, and whilst we know that water is best described by depth, here is an album that suspends an entire ocean of ideas so that they may be measured by height.



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