In Billie Lindahl’s (aka Promise and the Monster) latest musical offering, you’re invited into an otherworldly vista which sounds as much like a dark indie film score as it is a collection of individual storytelling songs.
The 6 track EP (titled Chewing Gum) soars and freefalls through a dreamlike and at times disturbing sonic soundscape, bringing in a variety of influences across a spectrum as broad as it is deep. From the opening bars of the swampy yet ethereal first track “Beating Heart”, to the galloping almost spaghetti western acoustics on EP finale “Closed My Eyes”, the whole release is held together by the chilling, cascading vocals and a consistency in the delay and reverb soaked production. Unexpected and sometimes unidentifiable instrumentation is peppered throughout, which results in a unique and surprising listening experience.
“Beating Heart” opens with a synth riff reminiscent of Still Life era The Horrors, accompanied by a pulsating minimalist beat allowing Billie’s Kate Bush-esque vocals to wander through the verses. Gradually there is an addition of a plethora of synth sounds and strings, the driving yet mid tempo feel allowing you to settle into a melancholic mood. and with an outro that gradually fades and strips back the elements, you know this a release to kick back and settle into.
The second track opens with a trickling arpeggio and a slow tempo, leading the listener on a fog covered mystic journey, floating along on a cavernous underground lake, there are nods to “Can’t Help Falling In Love” although it takes a moment for the mind to register the nod to the Elvis lovesong as it sits in such a different space sonically.
Instrumental “Vykort Fran Forr” allows some breathing room for the listener to wander around dazed and bright eyed before leading into what I would consider the second side of the EP. It’s a great piece of music in its own right, and adds to the feeling of drama and storytelling evident on the EP despite its lack of lyrics.
“One Summer” is markedly different from the opening two tracks with unsettling strings and eerie percussive effects you get an epic sense of loneliness, desperation and fear coming through. It has a hypnotic swirl about it, and for me was one of the stand out tracks on the EP. It gradually builds layer upon layer, repeating haunting vocal phrases. To continue with the film score idea, this is the point in the film where tragedy occurs, around two thirds of the way through the picture.
Title track “Chewing Gum” then, is the montage, the picking yourself back up, with its opening minimal bars before kicking into gear. Theres still moody strings around, along with plucked acoustics, brush drums and those melt in your ear vocals. It’s optimistic and hopeful but not in a naive way, the protagonist of this story has learnt some lessons along the way.
Which takes us to final track “Closed My Eyes”. The instrumentation on this tracks creeps up on you, with triplets of acoustics slowing coming to the fore, along with a rumbling bass, mixing this western horseback riding sense of movement with trickling spacedrops of synth, a series of oohs fading out into the distance, closing the curtain on the EP.
I’ve listened to this EP on repeat for a while and with each listen there is a new layer, a new moment or hook to find and get into. So relax and submerge yourself into this sonic frontier of dark, dreamy, alternative pop, and see where the story takes you.
Released 30th April via Icons Creating Evil Art