I think it was Pitchfork that once claimed that shoegaze was music for dreaming. On the same note, I would guess that doomgaze is music for dreaming bad dreams then. Listening to the debut album, “A Dead and Aimless Hum” – released in May 2020 by the independent doomgaze artist, SHEDFROMTHEBODY from Espoo, Finland – it could prove extremely hard. While the lyrics are charged with a slow-burning sense of doom, inner conflict, and turmoil, the music paints an ethereal landscape contoured by hauntingly beautiful vocal plateaus and alt.rockish guitar textures. The album’s dream-like atmosphere is, in effect, more Lynchian than stained with blood, gore, and ultra-violence. With this strong entrée, Suvi Saarikko, the musician behind this one-woman project, sets a solid footing in the pantheon of ambient metal inhabited by divine greats such as SYLVAINE, DARKHER, and IRESS.
The album opens with the track “Pathea,” titled with the plural form of the Greek word for suffering. Lyrically, the song is a grim tale of starving to death and apart from the hauntingly heart-wrenching 1988 anime, Grave of the Fireflies, I have yet not seen anyone approach the subject with such a delicate and beautiful touch. The guitars resonate with the pedigree buzz of the 1990s shoegaze classics and the angelic vocals recite the dismal narrative with a distinct Nordic folk twist almost as though MYRKUR had joined MY BLOODY VALENTINE. So, it seems that moody and minimalistic is the name of the game. As it happens, the Greek word ”pathos” stands also for one of the modes of persuasion in Aristotelian rhetoric – the use of emotional appeal. It is only befitting; the transaction of emotions evoked by the album is quite powerful, to say the very least.
At face value, the term “doomgaze” might suggest something like a demon choir chanting dark incantations upon dissonant guitar fermatas. I’m not really that deep into the genre, so I’m not really sure whether or not the vast majority of bands actually fall into that category. SHEDFROMTHEBODY, at least, is something completely different. The album track, ”Sol,” is probably the single most genre-complying track in this respect, with its BLACK SABBATH-esque guitar riffing. Of course, Saarikko‘s angelic voice elevates the song into a whole new, translucent realm of beauty.
There are also other subtle traces of 1990s alternative rock and even electronica on the album, in addition to the strong shoegaze vibes. ”Axhide,” for instance, channels the alt.rock fortés of GARBAGE quite nicely with Saarikko channeling the Harley Quinn-side of Shirley Manson‘s charisma dead on. On ”Curl,” the dreamy veil of gloom is syncopated with a drum beat groovy enough to fit any mid-1990s DJ Shadow track. The horse-themed cut, ”Paso Fino,” blends thick shoegaze, in turn, with the shimmering film-noir spheres of GOLDFRAPP‘s late-1990s album classic ”Felt Mountain.” These are probably not the most likely candidates to spring to mind upon listening to a typical doomgaze album. Obviously, SHEDFROMTHEBODY is headed for the less beaten paths and lucky for us, she has the artistic integrity to do so; ”A Dead and Aimless Hum” is a strong debut. A post-modern sleazebag such as me is not very likely to find a means of communing with the divine… apart from music. Here is an album more than suited for it.
There is a track titled “Hyaline” on the album. The name stands for “glassy” or “translucent.” The word kind of speaks for the whole album; whether the guitars weave gritty, almost spaghetti-western riffs, droning shoegaze-textures, or haunting spirals of emotion, it is Saarikko‘s strong and versatile voice that makes the album stand out. By turns sounding angelic and demonic, it creates an intricate tapestry of doom as though narrating a scenic journey into the Underworld – or the dark forests of the human soul. The last two songs on the album, ”A Better Place” and ”Disintegration,” serve as melancholy awakenings to the radiant mystery of being a flawed human being. Dished out with a bit of post-rock twang and 1990s-tinted indie guitar fuzz, what more could you ask for, really?
Written by Jani Lehtinen
- Cherubian Hand
- Paso Fino
- A Better Place
- A Disintegration
Suvi Saarikko – everything