Douglas Dare Whelm
Published May 09, 2014Although it's being released under the name of Douglas Dare, Whelm is very much a collaboration between singer-songwriter Dare and producer-percussionist Fabian Prynn. Dare provided the music and lyrics, while Prynn recorded, engineered, mixed and produced the album, and both played most of the instruments. Their combined efforts have resulted in one of the finest debuts to tap the neo-classical vein in recent years. Dare has a fine voice, earnest yet ghostly, his thoughtful lyrics landing in the realm of musical poetry. The liner notes even contain a small but proper poetry booklet, allowing one to delve deeply into the dramatic character-driven narratives Dare illustrates for us with accessible language.
Instrumentally, a well-worn grand piano and sparse percussion is the driving force, but recording at Flood's Assault & Battery studio inspired Dare to utilize a few bits of analog synths, and the brass of Ross Moore appears on a few tracks. So, while the album is extremely well written in all respects, and thematically serious, its effortlessly open feel makes it avoid coming off stuffy. This is essential listening for fans of Owen Pallett and Ólafur Arnalds. (Erased Tapes)