CD, Spectraliquid, 2009
A Wake A Week is the new ambient side project of Dave Dando-Moore, the man behind the acclaimed electronica act Detritus. While I’ve always enjoyed the skilfully crafted compositions of dark melodies and sombre atmospheres offered by Detritus, some of the rhythms have been too much drum ‘n’ bass for my tastes, so I was especially keen to listen to “Little Black Cloud”. Right from the start we’re given the impression that this album will deliver, the stark piano of “Home” combining elegantly with sinister synths and vintage radio melodies to create a powerfully tense ambience.
Each piece on the album is deceptively simple; minimal arrangements with just the right amount of separate elements all carefully chosen and employed to keep listeners interested and emotionally involved. The title track had me feeling quite depressed, albeit in a slightly pleasant way, the subtle use of Oriental instrumentation (What is that thing called? Is it a shamisen or a koto or what?!) complimenting quieter background piano, record fuzz and street ambience very nicely. It seems odd to place a track entitled “I’m Always Writing Endings” third on an album, but the striking way it kicks off is certainly very suitable for its position, a succession of distorted orchestral crashes alternating with softer interludes more akin to the previous pieces. “Your Brain Isn’t My Brain”, perhaps giving a clue to possible personal themes behind the record, put me in quite a reflective mood; in fact one of some consternation, so then “Leaves” came as a welcome respite, almost as a fond, nostalgic memory of happier times (presumably never to return).
In another case of well-placed contrasts, “One Take Away One” has a rather disturbing and uneasy opening, leading to slow guitar chords over not quite audible voices, followed by eerie tones suggesting some ominous threat lurking out of view. As the name implies, “Faerie Photo” is another relatively light-hearted piece, although becoming sadder as it progresses, perhaps evoking the lost innocence of youth or even feelings of alienation as a misunderstood outsider. It isn’t obvious where “Beginnings and Endings” should be placed, but it sounds possibly the most like some other band out of any track on this album, slow chords and heavy drums as featured in martial industrial, nevertheless very well done.
“Waking” is then another smaller sounding and more introspective track, again with evocative eastern instrumentation, before the album closes with the longest track, the self-titled “A Wake A Week”. The sounds of waves washing slowly over a deserted beach lead to tragic strings, distant conversations, a heavy downpour and intriguing snatches of sorrowful singing. All in all, I’m very impressed with this album and it’s hard to find fault with it. My only complaint might be that after the first few listens it isn’t memorable enough, but then it’s so enjoyable and rewarding when playing that it’s clear repeated listening is the only advisable course of action!
— Nathan Clemence