Lowpines – In Silver Halides
By: Joshua Stryde
Lowpines’ first full length studio recording, In Silver Halides, is a revelatory effort fully realizing the potential present on a number of EP recordings the band’s mastermind Oil Deakin has released since conceiving the project. He’s convened some talented musical partners to help bring the songs to even more vivid life with the inclusion of his brother Jamie on drums, Jesse Chandler (Mercury Rev/Midlake/BNQT), and producer IggyB. The method he’s pursued on the earlier EP’s of building the songs from lo-fi demos with layered instruments altered by reverb effects that wreathes the songs in effective atmospherics without ever sounding overwrought. Deakin writes and constructs arrangements in such a way they invoke suggestive emotional landscapes for listeners and never risks self-indulgence or pretension. In Silver Halides is a deceptively ambitious release in the sense that it never announces its lofty intentions, but the thought and effort put into the release clearly illustrate Deakin’s aspirations for something out of the ordinary.
“We Come Right” surprisingly begins In Silver Halides on a somewhat downcast note, but it never smothers listeners in a veil of despair. It’s best heard as a reflective and regretfully toned piece debuting for newcomers to Lowpines Deakin’s wont for making memorable use of contrasts in his arrangement and relying immensely on his brother Jamie’s drumming to help give stronger inner movement to the music. Jamie Deakin’s critical role in the music is even clearer with the album’s second song “Broken Wing” and helps ground the tune in a more traditional alternative rock vein than what the first song would lead us to believe Deakin’s aiming for on In Silver Halides. There’s a slightly and artfully played fatalistically quality to the vocal and lyrics of “Come on Chaos” and the dark humor in the song, however slight, sets it apart from the vast bulk of this album. The music, lyrics, and singing come together at times, however, to generate real pathos.
“Chambers in the Canopy” carefully modulates itself through its nearly four minute running time and the patient sweep it brings over listeners has a lush quality that marks listener’s with a light melodic touch. It isn’t one of the album’s longer numbers, but it rates among its most effective because it refines all the best qualities of the earlier slower tracks into something uniquely focused and effective. The layered vocal harmonies sweetening the mix on “Gold Leaf & Amethyst” flutter overtop another persistent Jamie Deakin backbeat and the song quickly builds and maintains a persistent energy level from the first. “Miracle Child” has a slow swing that rocks listeners away throughout the tune and definitely emphasizes the dreamlike aura pervading many of those aforementioned slower older tunes. The warmth of the recording is another important reason for the success of this tune and it gives extra snap to the album closer “Perfect Silence”, the closest moment on the album to on the point rock thanks to the dexterous and hard charging drumming. Lowpines has gained quite a reputation as a great musical project despite Oil Deakin’s attentions being so divided and we can only hope he soon intends to do more under this moniker.