Title: Lesser Evil
Record Label: Arbutus Records
It’s no wonder that Doldrums, otherwise known as Airick Woodhead, has bagged himself a support slot with fellow Canadians and sonic marauders Crystal Castles. While they occupy different parts of the field both sets of artists play the same ball game, discordant electronic manipulation being the aural sport of choice. While Alice Glass and Ethan Khan favor a more visceral onslaught, Woodhead ploughs the lines between ambience and chaos, with these lines blurring at times. With this in mind, appropriately Woodhead’s debut record moniker sums up his musical delivery well, when compared to his touring buddies, Lesser Evil.
The closest Doldrums comes to musical terrorism is ‘She is the Wave (Feat Guy Dallas)’ which dissolves under a barrage of bleeps, chirps, tweets and all manner of dissonant noises, akin to stumbling across a lazer gun shoot out in deep space. As with most songs on Lesser Evil, Woodhead’s vocal pitches itself like an androgynous Thom Yorke, with our lynchpin adopting a soulful but disconnected tone throughout. After ‘She…’ Lesser Evil dwells in a less confrontational stance albeit with the occasional blast of noise to keep you on your toes. The album’s title track channels piercing electronics and rolling percussion clatters that finally collapse into a flattering, malfunctioning racket. In-between the melee, there is a pop song attempting to claw its way out, in a parallel universe, this nugget is number one all over the world and Justin Bieber is all avant garde! ‘Egypt’ too finds itself in this template of unpredictable experimentation although with one eye on the pop radar and the other eye doing whatever the hell it likes!
The underlying charm of Lesser Evil is the use of layered beats and textured electronics that lends itself to creating an atmospheric tapestry of emotion. ‘‘Lost In Everyone’ manages to do exactly as stated, the faint digital hum conjures up an isolated yet claustrophobic tension which portrays the feeling of being alone on a planet populated by 6 billion people.
At times, Lesser Evil can feel a little one dimensional even through all the twists and turns, as its tone could lean more towards the chaos of Woodhead’s tour cohorts to slice through the, at times, stunted ambience. Lesser Evil could be a little more mischievous on occasion.
Words and Thoughts of Adam Williams