Slows – self-titled

Slows - self-titled

Slows – self-titled

Given all of his many tentacled endeavours, it’s a wonder that Matthew Simms has had the time, patience and head-space to devote to his solo alias Slows of late.  With his ongoing co-directorship of surprisingly durable art-pop janglers It Hug Backs and his increasingly prominent role in the latter-day incarnation of post-punk explorers Wire, coupled with session-player guest spots, mixing/production duties and other collaborative work with the likes of Bill Fay, Electrelane’s Verity Susman, Chastity Belt and Neu!/Harmonia legend Michael Rother, Simms has been far from idle.

Perhaps though, as the pseudonym suggests, Slows provides an opportunity for a deliberately less demanding – yet far from throwaway – demarcation of a certain strand of Simms’s multiple musical tributaries. This eponymous Slows full-length, for the discerning Deep Distance label, certainly bears this feeling out with subtly alluring results.  Stepping away a little from the self-restricting configurations of last year’s self-titled 10” EP for the same outlet – eschewing a farfisa-only set-up to add modular synths and ‘many FX pedals’ to the instrumental line-up – this LP documents the Slows sonic mission over two sprawling side-long multi-part pieces.

Side A’s “16 min 48 sec” (its name and actual length), is certainly the more murmurous of the two vinyl-embedded cuts.  For its introductory few minutes, the barely-there burbling and shimmering act like a situationist counter-offensive against ‘loudness wars’ mastering, demanding that the volume is cranked-up hard to follow the semi-concealed audio trip within.  As the extended instrumental unfurls towards its mid-section, ghostly subterranean whirrs briefly enter the mix before bleeding into a drawn-out phase of fatter analogue-electro throbbing, which in turn tumbles into several waves of hypnotic voodoo-techno beats, all ahead of a coda of vertiginous Steve Reich-meets-Tangerine Dream repetitions.

Side B’s “19 min 40 sec” takes things even deeper and wider.  Opening with more emphatically-mechanised layers – though still deliberately avoiding any strain on volume levels – the collage-like composition extends through spacier dronescaping, foreboding ethereal atmospherics, cavernous prowling low-end reverberations, cosmic chirruping, ambient filmic eeriness and Teutonic percussive pulsing to reach an almost ecclesiastical finale, where the collection’s journey finally concludes with gravitas.

Admittedly, this debut Slows long-player does swim in some already pretty crowded kosmische waters, but it certainly finds its own inviting and intriguing channels to balmily bathe the ears of patient and predisposed Deep Distance imprint followers.  To be contentedly filed next to likeminded labelmates such as Farbfelde, Melodien and Panabrite.

Deep Distance