Ernest Gibson—
Island Records

Released 2013 on Skrot Up
The Seth Man, December 2022ce
With a cover as diffusive as the sonic perambulations within, ISLAND RECORDS is a collection of only the nudges of suggestion, without lines of definition, and only a blurred halo that pulses from within. The album is quietly beautiful: its beauty in the articulated arrangements of Ernest Gibson, as well as his deft application of tones, rhythms, and pulses into a throb omnibus set within a foggy metropolis of sound. But for all the dampening of sound, it’s carefully defined. While nearly an instrumental album, its disembodied vocals recalling the childhood habit of singing into a fan to project robotic voicings, contain long-distance melodies, melodies that conspire to resolve only at great length. Located somewhere spiritually between the practical artistry of Eden Ahbez and the repetitive termite art drive of British post-punk, ISLAND RECORDS is mysterious, full of textures and stealth, as well as a completely immersive dream zone.

The journey begins “When You Get There” starts up with the distant, low discharge of bass drums while strands of distorted, echoed guitar tones emerge and trail off against clipped high-hatting. Emanations of distant murmur vox issue throughout, while those slowly emerging elements always direct into place. The pace slows with the entry of “Beachcaves (Theme)” but no less indistinct in its quiet maneuvering. Those distorted guitar tone are still resounding, louder still and even more echoed and as though ten minutes later into the same piece. Halfway through, it all falls apart, only to re-continue sometime later with an extended coda placed somewhere before it staggers to a halt. Distant rap chants soon part for a wall of guitar repetitions that march slowly and steadily over the dried bracken that is “Everywhere You Roam.” The vocals are nearly Bobby Gillespie’s whisper-vox, but only if they were left untended in some faraway place. The trail becomes difficult to trace with the darkened shadows of “When I Translate.” Although the drums have entirely fallen away, the center holds whilst all else has already gently detached from the central shaft as abandoned vocals emerge from beneath a curtain of bowed drones. A fading in of further drones reveal “In A Daylight Loop.” As brief as it is detailed, likewise can be said of the following vignette, the 52-second “Ocean Section” where damp and dampened rhythms continue over flurries of fragmentary sound.

Regrouping into a sleepwalking Jesus & Mary Chain non-sitting drum pattern while attendant sonic components gather, disperse and collect at will, “Groupwork” would be the ideal single off this album if it was an ideal world. It’s memerising and a midpoint boost with Gibson’s vocalising insinuates itself into all the right places while seagulls wheel above the hollow space of warmth created by the rhythm, the emotion, and its implications as a psychic counterweight. Slowing the pace, “Moon Paean” has a movement like a caravan, or a creeping coastline of lights and bells striking upon the waves as a procession or ritual is inferred by the passing sonic shapes. Another pair of brief interludes, “Take Me To The Traps” and “When We Switch” ebb stubbornly together: The former as a free-flowing drift piece, the latter as a rhythm-based outcropping. The drum-less patch of calm that is “In Spring (Insects)” is interrupted by the introductory guitar overhang of “All Of Us Together.” It builds in strength and the guitar themes recall the first pair of songs that began the journey/album. The finale arrives with the dramatic pitching of “‘Loosa Lake” with its scrawled guitar tones, murmuring voice and strident bass when you realise that the whole album really is as intriguing and beautiful as it seemed when it was passing by so effortlessly and dream-like.

You may purchase it here.

Massive thanks to Julian Cope for first bringing this album to attention back in January 2014.