Review of Quite A Way Away [12k1070]

The Liminal (UK)

There’s a plangent ambient languor about Gareth Dickson’s sound, a beguiling simplicity that means the absorption of his tone and meaning is a slow but rewarding process. <i>Quite A Way Away</i> is his third official full length release (following on from <i>Collected Recordings</i> and <i>The Dance</i>) and his first for 12K. It’s been the perfect accompaniment to this early spring, as it has an elemental reverb-laden coldness about it (much like some of Dean McPhee’s work) but gradual listening reveals the overall tone to be one of warmth and inclusiveness. One major influence is Nick Drake in terms of the overall feel – hushed and frail, dextrous and wafted in with a hint of otherness; and then that voice, high and whispered, disappearing from your field of hearing in its top register – but there’s no sense of Dickson paying mere homage: this is too unadorned and naked, too ready to follow twisted finger patterns into beautiful blind alleys. Lyrically, Dickson is fairly obtuse, but the main theme of the album seems to be an irretrievable distance from someone, particularly refracted through the prism of the sea, where an unnamed person is either drowning, or swallowed by a whale (the former in ‘Noon’, the latter in the beautiful closing track, ‘Jonah’). The simplest thing to say with this is that I keep coming back to it. Quite A Way Away is a quiet triumph. [MP]

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