“Less is more” might be a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, seemingly without people really understanding what it means, but the seven and a half minutes of Pale Shelter by Secret Admirer show that this is a band that really understands that idea. Situated somewhere between ambient, shoegaze, drone, and the experimental end of electronic music, these two tracks feel simultaneously sparse, and full of weight, emotion, and meaning. They are utterly beautiful studies in sadness, incredibly heavy emotionally even if they are not musically, and bode very well for the forthcoming full length.
“Billowing Perfume” blends sad, shimmering, shoegaze inspired guitars with electronic beats and droning bass, topped off with introspective spoken word that paints a picture vivid enough for the meaning and tone to be clear, but with enough left hidden for the listener to fill in the gaps in the narrative themselves. It’s powered by the most beautiful melancholy and doomed romance, but is smart enough not to over-play it’s hand. When dealing with this sort of music and feeling, less truly is more, and Secret Admirer strike the right balance between creating the tone they’re aiming for, without giving away too much and lapsing into self-parody or pretension. It’s absolutely glorious; music for late nights that have become early mornings, where the ghosts of regret are your only companions and they will not leave you be.
The cover of “Pale Shelter”, originally by Tears For Fears, taps in to the same feeling and mood, still vaguely recognisable as the original, yet Secret Admirer have made this version utterly their own. The lyrics become spoken word poetry, half hidden behind the warm fuzz that cloaks the track, and made all the more poignant for being delivered in this way. The gentle drones and fuzz make the song feel somehow damaged, as if what we’re listening to is a relic from an age before a great calamity, whether that be personal or global. The drums seem to come from far away, drifting to the listener on the night breeze, and the feeling of emptiness and distance the song conveys is harrowing, yet also majestic and wonderful.
The band have stated that the full length will be in more of a black metal vein, and I’m certainly curious to see how they combine that genre with what they have created here. The two tracks on Pale Shelter make great use of subtlety and space, which are not exactly common traits in black metal, but there are bands who have successfully incorporated them in to a black metal framework, pushing at the boundaries of the genre. Certainly, there is plenty of precedent within black metal for music that carries the same kind of emotional weight as these two tracks do, and it’s safe to say that I’m excited to see exactly what Secret Admirer produce. But in the meantime, these two tracks are hypnotic, full of the most beautiful sadness, and utterly, utterly addictive.
Pale Shelter can be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp.