A second album by Whistle Peak drops on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14th for those absent-minded). The name is Half asleep upon echo falls and the sound is lo fi (but polished, so no details are lost) and the atmosphere is thick with folk and country sensibilities, but there’s a tinge of electronica and ambient, just to play with your emotions.
It seems the release date is no coincidence.
Although not necessarily a love album, there’s a few emotions that seep through the 11 tracks of Half asleep upon echo falls. Not all positive ones, but, hey, you take the good with the bad, the best with the worst and when life pulls no punches, you just roll with them. If they are hard to roll, become limber.
Limber is also how this album starts. Like a music box crawling slowly towards the liquor cabinet (lesson learnt: don’t buy the cheap one), ‘Big and bright’ guides us through the tricks of the trade that Whistle Peak use, while a heavily reverberated voice juxtaposes with the ideas fluttering around.
You’ll probably get the adjective “gloomy” thrown around this one a bit. ‘Elephants’ and ‘Play the ghost’ are pretty dark, a perfect antidote to the inevitable barrage of lovey dovey songs waiting with saccharine-coated fangs around the corner. ‘Play the ghost’ is a particularly enjoyable lamentation, feels like the track that would hit the spot after a driving away from someone who won’t play a part in your life anymore. The more you accelerate through the dark, lonely roads, the louder the shouting match between regret and self-defence gets.
A clash of emotions, in a nutshell.
‘Us two can play’ is such a dark, brooding number. A steady beat and a guitar that hovers are the eerie sounds that play wingman to the almost disembodied voice that marches to its own beat, alone in the darkness of a path it will lead to oblivion. Thick with atmosphere, pretty much like the rest of the album, it’s Whistle Peak at its gloomiest.
But there’s moments when the tone is lighter, the lightshow starts and some fun (handclapping included) is thrown. ‘Hurry hurry’ is a breezier track and ‘Wings won’t behave’ foregoes any goth or gloomy dispositions and instead goes for good old psychodelic pop. It’s a tasty number and the only thing in common with the rest of the album is the haunting vocal delivery. There’s a bit of a flashback later on, though, ‘In a boat on a lake’ is the memento of a good night that won’t mean anything now. It’s a fun song, though. Heck, scratch the frowny-faced surface in some of this songs, drain away the reverb and you can see a rosy-cheeked pop album here. That is the ultimate trick, the Shyamalan-like twist that beneath a layer of gloominess, an enjoyable album is there, waiting (‘Sailor’).
The distant white noise of a waterfall. The soothing harmonies of a small creek that passes through a deep, dark forest. The elements of many a tinker’s shop crash land into a pawn shop and the ensuing sounds generated and ululating through. Organic ideas meet inorganic instruments and executions. Thick, gloomy atmospheres that still linger after “stop” has been pressed.