Born from an amalgamation of heartbreak and mourning, Bleach Lab ‘s A Calm Sense of Surrounding takes us on a voyage through the five stages of grief, moulding them into rippling and diverse soundscapes, lush, heavy and devastating.
The debut EP from the South London quartet uses the instability of water as a constant metaphor for sorrow. Emerging from a place of despair, this EP comes from the trauma of frontwoman Jenna Kyle and bassist Josh Longman. Placed in the middle of a vast ocean, leaving themselves at the will and peril of every somber drop, shoegaze has never been more real.
Rife with infectious riffs and liquid melodies, the EP evokes notes of Mazzy Star and Slowdive. It begins with ‘Old Ways’, which reflects the removal from reality of grief. Something about the track feels detached, or loose. Something is broken and it’s obvious within the music. It’s these subtle emotions that underlie the main body of music that make this EP so fantastic. It tackles grief head on, whilst being majorly unstable beneath the perfectly polished production.
In keeping with the nautical/watery theme, ‘Lighthouse’ charts the beginning of the band’s course to acceptance. With poignant imagery and sturdy rhythms, it’s a standout track. The fluidity of the guitar takes centre stage, acting as the waves crashing upon the shore – big, lovely shoegazey waves that is.
As we’re led through the trail of grief, it becomes clear that Bleach Lab have mastered the ability to carve sonic feelings. Whether this be the frisson inducing reverb of the bass and guitar or the melancholic peacefulness of Jenna’s incredible vocals, each note evokes its own distinctive sensation. ‘Never Be’ summons misty eyes and silent sobs, while ‘Scars’ channels the elation of a lifted but still lingering gloom.
On A Calm Sense of Surrounding, Bleach Lab replicates a moment where escapism is desperate, but they don’t allow you to have it. Instead they ask you to embrace your sentiments and confront your pain. It’ll all be okay in the end.
Haiku Review: Shoegaze and some tears That’s my favourite cocktail That guitar howls