Under Review

Silver Pools

Memoirs of an Oblong Sphere

Self‐Released; 22/04/2016

Theano Pavlidou

Unlocked memories, unlocked desires act like thousand sharp arrows shot from rusted bows in strange angles — the sky is bleeding again,don’t you see? A tiny drop of celestial blood lands on the fresh skin of Silver Pools‘ debut album. Do not be afraid. The ambient, dream‐pop entity, led by the Toronto‐based mandolinist, Todd Macdonald, bathes its fingers in the liquid stain and stirs it — a few peels of sunset light it finds and thin fibers of clouds which it pulls along the album’s paper surface drawing Memoirs of an Oblong Sphere.

The opening song, “Spesku Strings,” has the texture of a ‘30s movie soundtrack. Todd Macdonald’s prolific sampling techniques and brilliant exploitation of the Roland SP 404 create a retro micro‐biosphere where the full, mellow, blurry melodies of an old gramophone, sounds of slippery guitar strings, and a wooden loop like the wind‐up of an antique music box are kept alive.

These calm winds of computerized nostalgia provide a smooth transition to the next song “Carbon Cadence,” and to a modern‐romantic, post‐impressionistic mood which remains until the end of the album. A low‐key but uplifting symphony of magical beats, electronic signals, subtle trip‐hop tones and elastic sonic layers that expand and contract underwater. Chill‐out vocals coming from an ocean cave, a simple but addictive bassline, and the delicate mandolin complete its distinctive, avant‐garde sonic‐scape.

Silver Pools keep up this abstract and unconventional approach until the fifth song “Falling Embers.” Bringing forth the mandolin, intensifying the colours of frequencies which resemble dolphin or whale whistles, Silver Pools produce musical compositions which evoke an atmospheric quality. It is a captivating series of relaxation and contemplation.

Subsequently, a clever modification takes place without mutating the album’s ambient disposition. The mandolin, the vocals and more familiar and less complex tunes of piano, guitars and drums take the lead. There is obvious rhythm, effortlessly recognisable melodies, and classic open‐ringing mandolin chords, along with sparse arpeggios. The atmosphere becomes gradually erotic and reaches its climax at “Orange Achilles” — pop ballad spirits that keep you alert. “Leap Year” smells like wet grass in the early morning, it feels like returning home at dawn with your best friend. In “Full Moon” Memoirs of an Oblong Sphere becomes a full circle: wordless, abstract, abundant in sound sources.

Silver Pools’ debut album is music for reminiscence — life in slow (e)motion. Eleven songs that allow varying kinds of attention without imposing one in particular. Memoirs of an Oblong Sphere is as absent‐minded as it is mindful — as dreamy as it is awake and alert.