d_rradio & Lianne Hall - Making Spaces (Sentence)

d_rradio are back with a different sound, born from a collaboration with songwriter Lianne Hall.

Released Apr 20th, 2010 via Sentence / By Simon Harper
d_rradio & Lianne Hall - Making Spaces (Sentence) On this debut release for their own Sentence Records label, d_rradio return with a brand new album which broadens the band’s sonic horizons. Making Spaces is a marked departure from their terrific u_nderscore full-length – issued on the excellent Static Caravan label – and finds them recruiting singer-songwriter Lianne Hall for an arresting collaboration.

These two combined forces result in a series of compositions which flirt with the fringes of pop, and are wildly distinctive compared with the minimal chamber electronica that characterises their early output. Some of those ingredients still remain, but this time around they’ve been shaped into a very different end product.

The airy title track is a good example of this, where chiming guitar spars with orchestral tones, noise and dizzying beats. Similarly, the Tortoise-like precision and polyrhythms of ‘Stormy Weather’ form a definite highlight, pulsing with a crackling energy, crashing piano chords and rattling percussion, culminating in a jazz-fuelled riot of sound.

In contrast, ‘Full On’ essays traditional English folk, being reminiscent of Tunng at their most pastoral and despite lasting barely over two minutes it manages to create a fleshed-out atmosphere inside a stark, acoustic guitar-led vignette.

It’s this track, along with the spectral ‘Dressing Up’ which prove to be the best showcases for Hall’s sumptuous vocal, bruised and world-weary and seemingly embodying the deeply evocative textures concocted by d_rradio, so as to feel like a perfect fit. The latter especially reflects the beguiling dynamic they forge, fusing mournful strings with spare guitar and ambient drone.

But while the shuffling, trip hop-referencing ‘Up’ floats by with a summery spring in its step, and is easily the most instantly accessible song this pairing has produced together, it nevertheless somehow lacks the kind of haunting spark which makes much of this record a joy, though it’s not entirely without charm.

There’s an unearthly quality to many of the tracks here, and while not everything lands quite so close to the target, Making Spaces is well worth your time, and at little over 30 minutes there isn’t really any excuse not to reach for the play button again as soon as glides to a serene halt.