Monday, 9 January 2012


'This is an improv, minimalist solo project based on feeling and impulse, recorded by Stevie Floyd in 2009'.

That is the only information available on the internet about this release from Dark Castle guitarist/vocalist Stevie Floyd, which lends an appropriate air of mystery to the music. I wanted something to take me away from the draining day I've had, and lying on the floor listening to drone-y minimalist soundscapes was just what I needed.

my copy

The version I got is different from the initial run, in that the design and text have changed, and it's not hand-numbered, but I don't really give a shit about that sort of thing, because despite this pretentious blog, I'm not an elitist record-collector asshole. Well, not TOO much...

original run copy

Anyway, time to turn the volume up, lay my body low, and get into this...

Opening with cleanly picked notes with bright clear tone that instantly fill the darkened room, it's clear this isn't going to be merely 'Dark Castle minus drums'. I try not to compare musicians, but my first thought is that it reminds me of a slightly fuzzier take on Earth's more recent recordings. Slow, mournful, low-sung vocals creep in atop the repeating guitar motifs, a mix of crooned, sung, growled passages, all melding together to produce a really haunting mood.

The guitars break up, with so much delay and reverb, they're more akin to chiming bells than any kind of stringed instrument. They wind, weave, never settling on one passage for long before they veer off into new textures, notes, scales. It's an unsettling effect.

I desperately want to relax, but my attention is demanded, I need to hear where the sounds will go next. The unmarked packaging, devoid of tracklist or running time gives me no clues. The deceptively bright guitar tone and deeply sung vocals heighten the ominous, creeping, crawling nature of the music. By the time the album fades out, I'm officially creeped the fuck out.

This is a soundtrack for haunted wastelands, for forests in the dead of night, for feeling insignificant under the stars.

I got to talk to Stevie about this recording after seeing Dark Castle play in Edinburgh a couple of months back, and mentioned how interested I was in hearing this, and she told me that there may be more Natur recordings in the works, that she'd been playing music with a drummer. I'm not sure how the inclusion of a more percussive sound in the mix would affect the mounting tension I experience listening to this initial recording, but I'm really interested to find out!

You can check out the recording here, if you can get myspace to work, that is...
Buy it direct from Dark Castle's bandcamp page, as well as other great music/artwork Stevie has created
And go talk to Stevie if you get the chance to see her play, one of the coolest people I've ever had the pleasure of annoying at a show.

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