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Signer - Next We Bring You The Fire


Bevan Smith is one of those multi-talented instrumentalists that seem happy to bubble under the shadow of recognition. If you’ve seen the film “Touching the Void”, well he did the soundtrack. The New Zealand musician has been releasing music as Signer since 1998, but it’s only with this kaleidoscopic release that I’ve become aware of him.

In the same vein as the modern psychedelia of bands such as Animal Collective and Panda Bear, Smith takes care never to be bracketed in with any sort of specific genre, and instead deigns to mark out his own exploratory route in music, taking in all sorts of influences, but most importantly giving his compositions their own feel.  Aiding him throughout on this specific release are Jeremly Cobrough, Ryan McPhun and Matthew Mitchell.

There’s all sorts going on here, and in a way, whilst I often deride albums for being too long in today’s “got to fill the 70 min CD” age, it is over far too quickly, the 8 songs clocking in at under 37 minutes. Present throughout is Smith’s ghostly voice, which has its own strong character, although at times it feels disembodied and somewhat spectral against the washes of sound that he generates.  Opener “Nord Black Keys” thumps its way merrily through proceedings like a more intense version of the aforementioned Panda Bear, whilst “+Kicks and Kicks” stutters into a languid 4 chord funk that sucks one in like a shoegazing whirlpool. Although there is a tendency throughout to cover everything with the sort of intense drones that seem to be so popular, Smith’s voice cuts across with a real, otherworldly charm and his presence stops the album from lapsing into a series of atmospheric meanderings.  The influence of Rephlex-style British IDM comes to the fore with “We Should Touch Teeth” and “Don’t a Forest Cow” takes matters a step forward with a climactic ending, resulting in highly charged drum machine workouts set against distorted keyboards.

As mentioned earlier, it’s a shame that the album is so brief, because there’s an enormous range of influences and textures that come to life with Smith’s touch. The melodies are individual and demand your attention, whilst buried beneath a complex world of rhythms is a serious talent waiting to burst out. I suspect that there’s much more to come from this talent.

Toby Frith


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