Release Date: Jul 22, 2014
Record label: Blackest Ever Black
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
Dalhous make some of the brightest music you'll hear on Blackest Ever Black, but it occupies an uncertain footing between hope and pessimism. The upbeat timbres of their first album, An Ambassador For Laing, felt artificial—the musical equivalent of masking depression with chemical substances. Now the Scottish duo (Marc Dall on songwriting, Alex Ander on the engineering), who share an interest in mental health, sink deeper into melancholy with their second full-length, Will To Be Well.
Ever since Edinburgh's Marc Dall dropped the name Young Hunting and began working under the Dalhous alias, his recorded output has taken a more unassuming turn. Though his crepuscular inclinations still manifest itself in some of the music he makes under this new moniker, the aggression, hostility, and clanging signifiers of industrial music that populated that earlier work have largely vanished, supplanted with hushed keyboard swells and lazily clattering percussion. Over the course of one EP and two full-lengths, Dall and longtime collaborator Alex Ander have focused their efforts on capturing ominousness rather than agitation; on their new album Will To Be Well, they offer placidity in the wake of that disquietude.
Opacity is seductive as immediacy is deceptive. To look deep within ourselves is to confront blank passages and confusion, but to admit these obscurities without engaging their accompanying emotionality would be self-defeating. The slow, imprecise work to unpack, at least partially, what at first seems like empty space is how we uncover fragments of ourselves to be aligned and realigned.
Much of the writing about Dalhous to date has not dwelled too long on their stated primary influence, which in a way is not surprising. After all, it’s hardly immediately obvious what bearing the work of RD Laing, the pioneering and controversial Scottish psychiatrist who passed away in 1989, might have on the group’s ambient, instrumental electronica. By invoking a figure like Laing, though, Dalhous – now apparently the work of just one man, the Edinburgh-based producer Marc Dall – invite us, the listener, to imprint a whole set of charged associations on this otherwise veiled and cryptic music.