Sketches For Albinos – Days Of Being Wild And Kind

Isn’t the art work for this record just beautiful?  I think it is.  Fortunately, everything else about this record is pretty great too.

A friend of mine sent me a message recently telling me that this record, in his opinion, in the world of ambient music, is a masterpiece in terms of construction.  A work of art if you like.  Given that his own music can take years to produce, and for him to be satisfied with, that was high praise indeed.   And I completely understand where he is coming from, if I’m perfectly honest.

Matthew Collings is new to our Edinburgh streets.  He moved here recently, having spent many years living in Iceland, to do a post graduate University course in music.  Sketches For Albinos is the moniker he works under, though I believe he has released music under his own name, and this is his latest offering; a 6 year labour of love, entitled ‘Days of Being Wild and Kind’.

When I first heard this record, having been introduced to Matthew’s work by Paul Elam (Fieldhead), I was genuinely blown away by the creativity and intensity on offer, if a little confused by the overall cohesiveness and impact of the record.  This is a complex, dense record, make no mistake.  And let us get this straight; it is also a very disjointed record.  Each track seems to stand on its own, with different styles and directions somehow being pulled together through the stage that has been created, upon which the tracks are allowed to perform.  In many ways it makes me think (weirdly?!) of an opera of sorts.  All the parts have a common end in site, but the component parts drift off on tangents.  Lots of different sub plots, all held together by one story.  I know, that’s a little messed up, but it’s how this record makes me feel.  It’s as much about the surrounding cast, the background, the stage set as it is the lead characters and it’s this attention to detail that pulls the record together and gives it a firm sense of identity.

Every piece of this puzzle has its place.  Every noise, every element is lovingly considered and adds to the overall atmosphere created.   But it is dense.  Believe me.   So, as mentioned, this record is not always an easy listen.  Sometimes there is so much going on it really does take repeated listens to dissect the beast.  But if you take the time and really give this record attention there is much reward in the music on offer.

The album is described by Matthew himself as being “born from a process of making tapes and attempting to record with things I didn’t understand.”  For me, this sounds like a very personal record.  It evokes thoughts of the surroundings from where it was born.  The environment of Iceland, where Matthew was living at the time, certainly, for me, comes across in the music, never more so than on album opener ‘Sorbonne Midnight’.  And a winter feel is undeniable throughout the album.   Meanwhile tracks like ‘Daniel Likes Birds’ a beautiful piece of guitar (I think) complimented by vocal backing noises rather than words, lift the record to warmer climes.

For me, the essence of this record is that it doesn’t matter which track you listen to, it feels like a huge amount of time, thought and love has been put into the construction.  Like I said, it’s evoked a reaction me like no other record I’ve heard this year.  It’s a fascinating piece of music and it sucks me in deeper and deeper with each listen.  I love it.  Give it time and I am sure you will too.  You can check out Sketches for Albinos here and buy the record here.  Enjoy.

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