Low Colour is entirely saturated. The latest release from The April Fools Childrenhood — the solo project of the folk duo Leave’s David Cowling — is thick with sound all the way through its five tracks. As advised on his Bandcamp page, “Low Colour is a quiet collection meant to be listened to loud.” You would be wise to heed that advice, because the release really does benefit from turning up the volume. The richness of every sound can only be grasped when the volume is cranked. The swells and washes of reverb and feedback possess so much more weight when they threaten to overwhelm. While the silences, the spaces between, become all the more significant.
Cowling implements a very sparse sonic palette over the course of the record, utilizing hardly any variation in instrumentation. Clean, clear guitar; deep and swirling reverb-soaked synths; wince-worthy waves of feedback; and of course Cowling’s deep and comfortable voice make up the majority of the sonic landscape. Even with this repetition, Cowling still manages to steer clear of monotony.
Each of the five songs — aside from “Low,” a 25-second introductory soundscape — are firmly grounded in Cowling’s simple strummed guitar and voice. One could almost call it folk, if the rest of the sonic ornamentation didn’t entirely alter the mood of each song. Underneath the vast backdrop of somber, billowing reverb of “Miss Resentment,” Cowling’s voice and guitar holds the song’s structure together, while a sharp and sporadic guitar jumps across the foreground.
It’s on the final track, “Never Alone,” that the atmosphere gives way slightly, in favour of Cowling’s voice, as if it took four songs to gain the courage to really belt it out. Repeating the same phrases over and over — “Never alone, never the same,” and “I wish you the best,” — Cowling seems to focus the listener’s ears to the slight and ever changing timbral qualities in a human voice, as it slowly exhausts itself.
All the songs sound as if they were born of the same thought, painted with the same brush. Cowling is precise in almost every element of his production, with every sound carefully chosen and arranged delicately amidst its dark and gloomy world.