Sinking Into A Miracle

Richard Youngs and pals come up with an album of spooky rave sea-shanties

Amor’s debut is the product of a disconcertingly diverse group of experienced artists: prolific collaborator Richard Youngs, visual artist (and Turner Prize nominee) Luke Fowler, Norwegian composer and double-bassist Michael Francis Duch, and Franz Ferdinand drummer Paul Thomson. When each song begins, you’re never quite sure where they’re taking it; each of the five tracks leads us through unfamiliar, pared-down disco landscapes.

Opener ‘Phantoms Of The Sun’ begins in beefy 4/4, joined by shakuhachi bamboo flute. A funky walking bassline underscores heavier beats on percussion and sombre piano refrains. This simple and sparse use of acoustic instruments builds up to an abrupt introduction of Fowler on synths, preparing us for the increasing house influences across the album. At the same time Youngs’ quivering vocals echo through the song, and throughout the album, often sounding quite a lot like David Byrne.

The band’s folkish inspiration is especially evident on ‘Full Fathom Future’, where bubbling percussion and choral undercurrents carry waves of trance-like lyrics. Allusions to an endless sea and our full fathom future itself add to the rolling tempo of the track: you’re out at sea, but you’re dancing. Then what sounds like a bowed double-bass and that haunting shakuhachi take us under the waves to finish.

The album ends with its longest and most frenetic track, ‘Truth Of Life’, a chaotic, joyful odyssey-finale. Youngs’ voice reverberates – “I’m drawn to the full truth of life / I’m drawn to you” – and at points descends into desperate, unintelligible echoes. But throughout we are anchored by the thumping drums, dotted with acidic zaps, discordant piano riffs and afrobeat percussion. The excitement splinters off over thirteen minutes until we’re left with echoing ethereal vocals, which are soon joined by another pulsating house beat that seems to lead us back into the dance.

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