Rating: 8.5 / Format: CD/LP / Label: Post Present Medium
Silk Flowers consist of Aviram Cohen and Peter Schuette, formerly of New York outfit Soiled Mattress And The Springs, along with Car Clutch’s Ethan Swan. Muso credentials aside, this self-titled debut album is a gloomy synth-driven tapestry of haunting minimalism and powerful, evocative song writing.
Album opener ‘Flash of Light’ takes a simple synth loop, overlays atmospheric harmonics, and then brings in the hollow echo of a snare – let’s just say the result has more than a hint of Joy Division to it. Cohen’s vocals certainly add to that impression, summoning the spirit ofIan Curtis even if he can’t match the singer’s full-bodied baritone. ‘Night Shades’ dispels any fear that Silk Flowers are simply the latest in a production line of post-punk revivalists; grinding electronics fuse industrial clangs with shouted vocals to create a fantastically uneasy listen. ‘Sand’ is a beautifully ethereal instrumental track that takes the album in yet another direction, while the elegiac ‘Running out of Rope’, replete with out-of-tune piano and chanting vocals, is genuinely affecting.
Credit must go to the pitch-perfect production of Fred Thomas, who plays the album straight and lo-fidelity, avoiding the temptation to oversaturate the 80s vibes already on show. Silk Flowers aren’t self-consciously retro but they are nostalgic: the band look to the past to find inspiration for the future, and while they tread a fine line throughout the record, the originality in their song-writing ensures they stay the right side of copyist, resulting in something enjoyable and admirable.