Dam Mantle - Brothers Fowl
Brothers Fowl is the first album proper from Dam Mantle, or Tom Marshallsay if you prefer, the sonic adventurer from Glasgow; both artist and electronic producer. After First Wave brought together his EPs as well as some additional tracks, Brothers Fowl is a watershed moment in his eclectic musical journey.
It sees Marshallsay turning a corner and finding his voice, a colourful and wide-eyed statement of intent bringing together the experimentation of the last three years. And it's been a busy few years. There have been three EPs released though the Get Me, Halleluwah Hits and his own Growing labels, as well as First Wave together with numerous collaborations.
From Grey to the Purple Arrow EPs his releases have zigzagged between styles and sounds, a restless search for the new and exciting. It highlighted Marshallsay as someone obsessed with sound; the range and breadth of his work showing his ambition and passion to create.
Brothers Fowl builds on his body of work, not only refining it, but taking them further. This is an album built on glistening ambience and cushioned rhythms. The melodies floating around on butterfly wings and build a place in your head.
Right from openers 'Canterbury Pt 1' and 'Pt 2', this album pulses with life and color, featuring Four Tet-like jazzy splashes of sound. The parping, glistening insistence of 'Lifting' is a wistful joy while 'R G B' is more abstract, with its shards of sound bouncing off each other as something that sounds like strings somehow knits it all together. The coughing vocals and build up of the title track are overtaken by laser beams, as it shimmers and morphs, becoming darker and moving through twilight into the night. 'Blueberry' and 'Spirit', which closes the album, are lush and elegant, floating on clouds, the woozy culmination of everything that has gone before.
If this record lacks anything it's in its coherence and ability to create a story or something to grab you. Yet it's an album rich in sound – something introverted, beguiling and gentle but which never jumps out at you. You get the feeling, with his restless progression and constant urge to push on, something surprising and essential will soon emerge.