In All That Drifts From Summit Down

A Dead Forest Index

Sargent House, 2016

REVIEW BY: Ludwik Wodka


There are plenty of bands out there that manage to produce a full sound with only a few members, and their exploits are well documented. However, with the latest release from A Dead Forest Index, this principle is put to full effect, generating a moving, rich, and evocative sound with a bare minimum of instruments. What is interesting about it is that while this may seem like a minimalist approach, the songs sound fully realized and rich rather than stripped-down. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Consisting of brothers Adam Sherry (vocals/guitar) and Sam Sherry (drums/piano), the New Zealand-based band described itself as “a collaboration, with Sam Sherry supplying percussive depth to his brother’s distinctively hymnal approach to vocals, itself characterized by cyclical harmonies and experiments with drone.” Comparisons to Scott Walker, Swans, and Nico (particularly “The Marble Index”) are apt, but are distinctive enough to avoid being labeled imitators. If anything, this album makes the more distant and foreboding aspects of Scott Walker and Nico with more accessible.

The songs have a melancholic but mesmerizing beauty to them. Opening with the dirge-like “Tide Walks,” its minimalist arrangement and vocal harmonies blend beautifully and with potency. Much of the album follows this pattern with largo pacing, most notably “Ringing Sidereal,” “Swims Out,” and “Silver Thread Of Sun.” However, the album is not relentlessly morose and sunless; the joyous chorale in the coda of “No Paths” and the tense, rising crescendo of “In The Greyness Of Water” broaden the palette. Perhaps most interesting (to me, at least) is the way the vocal harmonies will sometimes simply run in parallel, at other times reach into more interesting intervals to create a more expansive sound, using harmony to make the songs expand and contract.

In spite of the occasional upbeat moments, the overall feel of the album is very slow and mournful, focusing on the melodies, unencumbered by conventional pop song structure. There are very few weak spots over the course of these 13 songs. It is everything a great album should be – beautiful, evocative, unified, and distinctive. While it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, In All That Drifts From Summit Down still stands out as one of the best indie albums I’ve heard this year.

Rating: A-

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