Estranging music in all meanings of the word is the forte of Das Sombreros. They specialize in sounds that you may recognize, vaguely, like a bad dream you had last night and forgot about, but can’t quite place. And while you’re trying to figure out what happened and what didn’t, you are surprised by something new. That is The Lamp.
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Some musicians obsess over trying to thrust the listener into an artificially created space or environment, against their will, whether they’re hungry, happy or horny. We all need an escape, and this music surely, ahem, takes us places, but a lot of the time it’s a place that we’re fairly familiar with. Mancunian duo Das Sombreros approach this sort of displacement in another way, using electroacoustics to blur the line between comfortable and alien.
Their sound revolves around a patchwork of samples and field recordings, arranged in a way that never stays still, never gets caught up with one of its imaginary landscapes. What would at first appear to be an ode to the forest with rustles and birdsong reveals itself as an unsettling juxtaposition with a low whirr of some muted machinery. It builds to drop the birds and replaces them with the busy chatter of a town centre, but always with a fluid motion and a hyperreal edge. Some textures mirror the way real world sounds behave, making repetitive hits but with subtle differences every time. You won’t find many snatches of melody here besides the odd piano or synth quietly poking through, but that’s only a glimpse into one of the many areas proposed by Las Sombreros. And here was me thinking that it would be a Los Campesinos tribute band.
Side B holds some really eerie stuff. The opener has a single melodic drone overlaid with baby babble, phone dials and more machine-like clutter. The duo’s use of panning has a really satisfying effect, closing your eyes drops you into some strange junkyard worlds where that moon fridge from Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Day Out is freaking out on your left and its brother to your right. A right trippy racket. As the press release already states, I’d give this a headphones listen if I were you because the dynamic range on this is massive. Lots of noise detail is barely audible and would be lost on the average hifi or (god forbid) car system. One for the abstract sound collage folks for sure.
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