Welcome to another edition of Rainbows in the Dark, the column where we talk about things that we love that don’t fall under the metal umbrella. Rest assured that the album we will be exploring is still heavy, just a different kind of heavy. Today brings us new sounds in the form of Dark Days, a collaboration between Texas based experimental musicians Tanner Garza and Funeral Parlor.
Dark Days strikes an impeccable balance between structure and space, juxtaposing Funeral Parlor’s rhythmic keyboard lines with Garza’s shimmering and ethereal use of tape loops and frippertronics (a method of manipulating analog tape by looping it between two machines to create manual delay and layer sounds atop one another). The keyboards ground the music in a meter without venturing too far away from ambient territory, while the tape loops and manipulation provide the backbone for these embellishments. When married together, the two musicians’ seemingly disparate styles combine to bring out the best in each other for maximum emotional effect. It is truly humbling just how much can be conveyed in these songs with such a minimalist approach, yet the music contained here has a humanity to it that many will find both familiar and comforting. Influenced by “severe depression, an unhealthy fascination with the macabre, and the likewise enjoyment of collaboration” (according to label Aural Canyon), Dark Days is an album that hangs over the listener like a thick fog. The sense of world-weariness and melancholy on songs like “A Light Coma”, “Untitled (Saudade),” and album closer “最終日” are almost palpable, reminiscent of those gray and hazy mornings that beg you to shut yourself away from the world.
Dark Days is my favorite experimental release I have come across so far this year. The deftness of hand with which the collaborators here have woven together light and dark, rhythm and ambiance, and density and space is truly on another level. This is a wonderful addition to both of these artists already fantastic portfolios.