|MH-289 Pressed And - Stone Candles
Stone Candles completes an arc for Pressed And in their aim for balance in composition. Across the the band's three releases, that aspiration is often illustrated by instrumentation. Stone Candles builds off of the band's previous releases and introduces a new and more confident landscape in deploying the sound of guitars and keys, legible in their selected use of effects and filters. Whether through the country guitar and vocal samples of "372", the open guitar strumming used in loops throughout the album, the cascading loops of filtered samples and synths or the righteous string-work on eight-minute standout "Bored on a Lam", the album sports a swagger that transcends both the traditional sound-associations of guitar music and the rigid formulas of electronica. Stone Candles is easily the band's most mature sounding release to date.
|I thought it was best to start at the beginning, in the place I don’t know, to learn where it is / what it is made of / where we may go. There are ties on the wall that go out through the door, and down the garden path and over the hill.|
I do not know.
I assume it’s down the temporal path, through garden and musk, linking us with what has been, that of the past. It keeps the walls from falling down. Great red ribbons of space that flutter in the wind.
During the last few weeks, Pressed And‘s latest album Stone Candles has been a gentle friend of mine. Through the stresses of uni work, the impeding deadlines and general life peaks and troughs, its soft and calming manner has snaked its way through all sorts of events to soothe and release. By my side on (too) early train rides, clammy fog morns and through torrential rains, I have clung to it in search of meaning. However, while she has been there, a constant, I found this reflection difficult to write.
Even when you have 100% free, creative and boundary-less environments in which to craft what you will, it’s not easy. It’s not easy when the mind has limits it wants to impose on itself. Internal pressures, those sickly things—ideas on how you must perform, must be better, faster, wittier, more accessible, more experimental. We barricade ourselves in before we even set out to try. And when the pen finally does leave a mark on paper, a note recorded, a stroke on canvas, we know we can still do more. Such is the human condition.
It’s these internal pressures that will always be greater than any other, and while we try to overcome them—cut the brakes and plummet full speed like a bullet train running down a hill—we prevent ourselves. We’re scared of not being the best versions of ourselves, forgetful of how long exactly that takes.
What Pressed And has given me then, is not all the answers, the inspiration or the much-needed faith in self. Rather, it is a link to the past. Stone Candles is a gentle pool of recollection that I have been dipping my toe in and out of over the past few weeks and revelling in its temperate changes. “Haus” is the catchy sample and beat driven music that got me to this place to begin with. The absolutely spot on clang of guitars in the opening of “Boo” reminds me of long, adolescent nights crowded around my shitty speakers looking for a sign. And “Bored of a Lam,” with its sad, insightful lyrics speaks to me of quiet, lonely times removed and determined to rely only on self. “Nobody learnt about you. Nobody ever got that far.”
There is an interesting marriage here between guitar and electronic sound—an eager relationship in which the pair support each other in showcasing the brilliance of each instrument. It’s the coming together of the steady past, in the nylon twang and comforting thrum of the iconic guitar, and the future, with Mat’s voice manipulations singing out to the constant evolutionary nature of music. Throughout Stone Candles we feel a gentle easiness achieved in the extrusion of pop—pulling it softly, like ribbons, through windows.
We see as well the strands of influences that blow forth from distant places: a myriad of folk musings, a glint of country, a synthetic manipulation, an honest reverberation.
The importance, then, of this connection with what has been, is how it comes full circle. Full circle in the sense that it is a silhouette of the past that we do not forget, or miss, or challenge, but denote understanding in the form of growth. Growth, because with a keen eye and gentle reflection, you can see not necessarily where you have gone wrong but how you came out—differently, better, wiser. And when you construct internal pressures, all those barriers you put on yourself about what not to do, you believe that you will never be at the end of the path you want to go down. Your connection to past, however, reminds you how far you’ve come. Eventually, you will reach an end—the part in the circle where two lines meet and you become full. - Portals