25 Mar 2016

Public Memory / Wuthering Drum (album review)

Atmosphere: that's the word that most concisely summarises the dark, brooding sounds made by Brooklyn's Robert Toher aka Public Memory on debut album Wuthering Drum. Formerly of the group ERAAS, on Wuthering Drum Toher masterfully weaves together dark atmospherics with an incredible sound extracted from a 70s analogue synth to make one of the best albums to have come outta 2016. One look at the cover's all you need to know that this record is bleak and mysterious, it sounds throughout like a sonic interpretation of a Francis Bacon triptych.

The whole record has the same dark, liminal feel to it; it's music that could soundtrack any apocalyptic film's barren conclusion capably, or beautiful bed a dark urban walk home on a Winter night in a neon-lit city. The tiptoeing Domino's pattering beats combine with the whirring humming of the organ to make for something that sounds like an In Rainbows outtake dragged into the dark depths of the human psyche by Toher's warped vocals, whilst Ringleader is instant in its menace, again the synth sound is just incredibly satisfying.

Throughout this record, the two main things that keep it mesmerising, keep up the illusion of dystopia and keep it feeling pained, deeply emotive all the way through are the sound of the Korg synth and Toher's deep set vocals. Not quite sung, not quite bleated, Toher's words are expressive and ultimately underneath the atmospheric cloak his beatmaking allows for.

To me it sounds routed in trip-hop more than anything else; murky, murky hip-hop given a modern twist with refined drum machines and Public Memory's own distinct synth sounds. It has the urban menace of the darker moments of Mezzanine but thanks to the Korg's analogue sounds it also has the alien ethereality of Portishead's Dummy in tow. Fractured, dark, and certainly atmospheric, if you're looking for a dark album that captures the instant gloom of the urban, you're not going to have to look past Public Memory's Wuthering Drum. / stream the whole thing below


(written by calum cashin)