This isn’t exactly the kind of thing I thought I’d be reviewing when I started The Sound Not The Word, but it’s so good it more than deserves the attention. A duo comprising of Matt Finney and Maurice (of Gnaw Their Tongues), It Only Gets Worse have released, with Love Songs, an EP of downbeat, melancholic bliss. It’s music for late nights, low lights, and that oh-so sweet mixture of love and pain that strikes us all at times. It’s absolutely wonderful, and I’ve had it on almost constant repeat all week, with each listen feeling fresh and new.
Right from the off, it hits a similar spot, and scratches the same kind of itch, as the likes of Tujiko Noriko, Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92, or even edIT’s Crying Over Pros For No Reason (one of my favourite albums not based around guitars). Sparse and haunting, “I” makes use of a most unexpected sample to create a sense of loss and longing, with gentle drums and clicks creating a real sense of space (or emptiness). The spoken word sections only add to this (“I couldn’t move close enough to ruin this”), and no words can do justice to the emotions this music stirs.
“II (Interlude)” does away with any vocals, and instead feels much denser musically; the sense of space is still present, but it’s much more closely packed with deep synths and high, echoing melodies that bring to mind the ocean, and a stuttering rhythm that suggests time not quite flowing properly. When the (tasteful) strings kick in after the two minute mark, they add a slightly cinematic feel to the track.
“III” brings some rhythms that bring early Aphex Twin, and the lighter moments of Squarepusher to mind, slightly playful and energetic, even as the music surrounding them once more feels lonely. Matt’s spoken vocals paint a vivid picture of a love that hasn’t exactly gone to plan, captured in small, descriptive glimpses, perfectly in fitting with the feel and tone of the music.
More than anything, though, Love Songs is a perfect example of how music that is largely electronic in origin can possess a strong, human heart and soul. The over-riding feeling is of the emotion and aura this EP possesses, and that is what makes it so appealing and hard to put down. It’s music to be listened to in isolation, that reminds you of how valuable it is to be connected and close to others. It’s that sense which is especially important in separating good glitch and ambient from that of lesser quality – the good stuff stirs the emotions, and is as striking as any other genre you care to name. And as such, Love Songs is an absolute triumph.
Love Songs is available to stream and download via Bandcamp.