Rating: 7 / Format: CD/LP / Label: Olde English Spelling Bee
Ducktails’ last album, self-titled and released on Not Not Fun Records, came out less than a year ago, but the prolific Matthew Mondanile has since seen fit to furnish us with another full-length, entitled Landscapes. It’s a breathtakingly pretty album, and as its title suggests, its sense of place is open and plural: it can conjure or complement whatever landscape you will it to, from a verdant forest to a sun-scorched desert; from an overcrowded city to an empty beach. The sun is kind of a fixture though.
Mondanile’s guitar, endlessly looped, re-doubled and reverb-soaked, is the star of the show, augmented sparingly with distant drum patterns and spindly synth-tones, but what makes this album eclipse his other releases to date is its compositional acumen; the songs aren’t just pretty instrumental textures, they each have a strong and pleasantly disorienting narrative pull.
Landscapes bears traces of the acid-fried kosmische rock of Ash Ra Tempel, the shimmering Factory Balearica of Crispy Ambulance and The Durutti Column, the scuzzy lo-fi grunge of early Pavement and Sebadoh, and, particularly on ‘Deck Observatory’ and ‘Seagull’s Flight’, the kind of hauntological, arpeggiated electronica espoused by Belbury Poly and Smackos; it’s really quite a trip, if a somewhat derivative one. And now, as summer slides out of view, another batch of sunny-day memories stored away in the dusty shoebox of the mind, Ducktails’ soft-focus aural polaroids sound all the more powerful and elegiac.