There's a low rumble, like a space shuttle leaving earth, but faintly heard from miles and miles away — the sonic remains of an explosion, the exhausted residue of memory. There's a woman falling upward in complete black. She sings into the void, with a longing that knows loss, "Baby, time won't take all of my love for you / If I don't make memories to claim the old ones / I'll just stay here and review." The scene is serene and defiant, a warm welcome into the abyss.
SOFTSPOT's Clearing is a record that juts in and out of lushly abstract pop music at its own pace, but the positively gorgeous "Habits" is where the Brooklyn band imagines a space ballet. Like one of Radiohead's piano dirges run through the polished pop-noir of Scott Walker's Climate Of Hunter, there is a dark current to "Habits." Amid soft-focus drums that swing around rippling keyboards and airy guitar chords, Sarah Kinlaw's aching croon embodies the pleasure and pain of saudade, singing a song "that explores loss through the lens of an agoraphobic," as she tells NPR. "It focuses on the sensitivity of memory and phobia, how making new memories may forever replace the old ones."
New Media Ltd.'s dreamy black-and-white video, in kind, gives Kinlaw — also a choreographer — space to dance alone in empty rooms and negative spaces. There's a brief moment when her movements are edited like a stop-motion film, transforming Kinlaw into Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. It's a bit of magical whimsy before the song's climax and Kinlaw's final descent into darkness.
Clearing is out now on Arrowhawk and Bandcamp.