Adderall Canyonly – From Below We Reach Above (2013)

With a title like¬†From Below We Reach Above,¬†we’d expect an album with aspiration and optimism, of yearning and quiet confidence, and the unusually titled Adderall Canyonly deliver with exacting precision and delicate atmosphere these sensations to a tee.

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We open with the title track, a gauzy, bleary number that creeps along at its own languid pace. There’s a careful and thoughtful attitude put across here that sets a high bar for the rest of this admittedly bite-sized album to follow; easygoing acoustic guitar is accompanied by the slow creep of a sun-kissed drone underlay, carefully cycling to propel the piece. The line between acoustic and electronic is precisely drawn in the sand and yet there is a distinct cooperation as they play off one another, especially late in the track where the fusion breaks down and the tone changes to one rather more melancholy and on edge. The drone smear becomes a growling fuzz at its peak before the guitar dies away and the emotional trough passes, finishing on a radiant, quivering drone note.

“Radial Spacial Eclipse” moves the album along rapidly in a distinctly more hopeless direction as we are reminded of our predicaments and responsibilities following our yearning for freedom in the opener. A delicate but eerie drone pervades the track, largely making its way unobtrusively but clearly slowly rising in volume throughout before more experimental electronic flavours begin to make themselves known in zipping and skittering synth shards piercing the still waters. Thin electronic bells toll to signify the changes approaching at the end of the track before converging to finalise it on a skyline dominating, jittering, singular note.

Mysteriously titled “Thanks For All the Canvasses But We’d Prefer The Forests Returned” seems to want to keep the album see-sawing between optimism and fugue as it returns to a sedentary wash of sunny drone interleaves, subtly increasing its textural complexity in a deceptive fashion as it introduces almost trumpeting notes, electronic growls and playful synth pulses in a brilliantly conceived closer. The track in its entirety has a certain peculiar calm to it but it eventually becomes tired of coasting and yearns to break free and cover new ground with more experimental electronica.

Lastly we have the gorgeous closer “If We All Live Long Enough We Will Lose Everyone”, a track that reminds me of Marc Broude’s Slowcore work from earlier this year; faux organ blats begin to return those familiar, downtrodden vibes again but are slowly caught up and replaced by an oscillating siren of electronica in something of an awkward segue to finalise the track and the album as a whole. It’s something of a fitting end in some respects, that the closing moments are ones of anxiety and fear.

It’s pretty difficult to fault this release, but at the same time I can’t help but feel a little disappointed, like they could have done something just a little longer or more challenging. It’s so charming and easygoing that one can’t help but want just a little more; after all, 26 minutes makes this more of a half-album really, and yet in many ways it also feels just right. It’s frustrating that they’ve created an album of that length and condensed everything they needed to say in precisely that time, which is a completely irrational thing to say but that’s how I feel. That aside, the album is thoughtful and low-key throughout, and allows for a certain level of listener aloof-ness to just bask in the largely gentle drones as well as more introspective and careful listening if so desired with carefully evolving textural crescendos.

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