Greg Dowling and Shane Johnson return to the Go Deep label for their third album, ‘This Bit of Earth’. Beginning work in the relative normality of 2019 and finishing over the strange summer of 2020, the resulting music mirrors the thoughts that such upheaval brings out - our world and our place in it - while also functioning as a kind of travelogue of journeys past and planned, real and imaginary.
Mixing samples with modular synths, programmed drums with jazz loops, and quirky plugins with outboard gear, the album ranges far and wide while retaining a warm, natural core sound.
The title track opens proceedings on an ambiguous note. A simple double bass motif weaves around a misheard vocal sample, layers of piano and vibraphone take up the call, and the whole thing gradually spins off axis to a distorted, disjointed finish. ‘Suburban Key’ follows on a groove of busy drum work and deep sub bass, the stately piano and strings setting the stage for an undulating synth solo. Further in, ‘Alice on Jupiter’ takes a deep breath and blends field recordings, gently swelling pads, modular bursts and a recurring picked melody. ‘Back Trace Dub’ strolls the imagined streets of Irish author Kevin Barry’s ‘City of Bohane’, noting the “taint of badness” in the air and revelling in the tense, dub-noir atmosphere. Later on, the spoken word intro of ‘I Could See’ expresses the dread of confinement and the relief and ecstasy of release, a theme the music reflects as it steadily builds to a joyful climax. And closing the album on an optimistic note, the languid, emotional Culatra Ferry remembers better, beautiful days in the sun and looks hopefully forward to more.