"some of the most dark and interesting guitar music this side of The Microphones...a surprisingly successful attempt to make one of the most satisfying rhythmic sections around...the sweetest soul of 2014 soothing himself with his own songs" - SPUTNIK MUSIC - 02.02.14
"Not your average artist, Sam Mumford is creating music amidst chaos. Is this just broken noise or beautiful genius?" - BITE THE BELT - 21.01.14
A review on the second listen : Instants : Scatter EP : Rick Holland
This EP hit me on a day that made my heart sink. A little like I would shrink from putting Nick Drake on if the day was gloomy and my heart full of the murky heaviness it can be prone to. But the awkward first listen stayed with me. I found it hard, a walk through memories, personal stories, hints of stoned sadnesses and the truth suspended just out of reach. Painfully pinpointed harmonic lyrics to sing over fret picks and squeaks, this record is a soul laid bare without sugar coating.
And on the second listen - after a good night's sleep, and first-thing-of-the-day brain, it is important to qualify - the rest of the magic came in to visit. This is something very, very special. It is something I will listen to many times.
It is those impressions of the first paragraph. Those impressions are the reaction of a being saturated by thinking and transmitting, where this record's slow unpicking of an immediate reality just seems too deeply involved. What I am saying is that this record would pass you by if you consumed music and art in our every day default setting, and that is a crime, nothing less. Unless we are able to temper our frantic click based rush for satisfactions and fifteen second outpourings and sharings, we will miss work like this increasingly.
The time is on us for a new vinyl perhaps. An imposed ritual that means placing an art work on a turntable and allowing it it's own space. In it's own space 'jumbled memories arise' from the maelstrom, and the maelstrom is in fact an exquisitely picked foray in the off beats and pulses of a real day, the struggles and climbs into moments of harmony that can be immediately offset with brutal bass string and equally sudden emergent melody. Memories, personal stories, stoned sadnesses, yes they are there, but half way through, we find our comfort 'in the lucid hours' with Sam Mumford, and we realise we are on a journey we all recognise, and the lucid hours are just so fucking good.
The stoned twists into melancholy, and gurgles into bassoon like acid warp, and gawping sounds out from the ether, hanging to be jabbed and stapled by clack beats, suddenly the melancholic vocal is not mourning anything, and the record - this is a record - has to be handled and taken back to the start, complete with live studio crackle, breathing and fret squeak. Any notion I had of making a comment on instant culture by reviewing it after two listens thrown on the scrap heap with all the other instant shit ideas.
Having climbed down into a world of balance and breath, the EP's opener 'Within Without' is a love song, it always was. Finger work of real power, distortion and ringings, and the poetry of a single verse left to hang. Into 'Paper Thin' the journey morphs, distortion hangover ushering in a tripping train ride to work percussion opening, and what had seemed dense and difficult is an oasis for any weakness to find some respite, 'we can see where your fault lines begin' and an ambiguous naked belonging. Love beyond relationships, in commune, collective experiences and most of all forgiveness, this compassion might come from sadness but it is joyful.
'Wet Eyes' carries this on, the journey into our battered and berated self consciousnesses showing us how dark we have gone, each fret slide and string a step into memory. Those jumbled memories arise again, and the poetry sings out into ecstasy, any abstractions that have picked us up putting us safely down into cooling water to swim in freely, the undoubted peak of this gem of an EP.
From here, it is hard to listen to the remaining two tracks with anything other than the clarity of someone who has just been baptised, or emerged for the first time, pink eyed from an addiction. 'And the bleeding will stop' could read as 'and the bleating will stop' and would still work (bleating equating to servers and social media existence perhaps). The record is full of these poetic interchanges, as the precarious route to 'meaning' is carried so strongly by the guitar work and layers of atmosphere.
So, to 'folds', and for me the end of the third listen. 'Unpack the folds'….. 'and scatter'. Here we go, a beautifully judged journey into the folds of our own darknesses, but we are implored to emerge from whatever they are, whatever has punched holes in us, or folded us too closely to something that we are not, and scatter.
Listen to this record. And then have a sleep, and listen to it again.